Calzaghe – Kessler Contends For Fight Of The Year

joe calzaghe02.10.07 - By Matthew Hurley: I always know a big fight is coming up when my father gets psyched for a marquee showdown. My father is a fight fan, but one who doesn’t watch every match – he gets his daily reports on the fight game from his son. But for whatever reason the super middleweight showdown between Joe Calzaghe and Mikkel Kessler on November 3rd has completely enamored him.

It’s a bit odd considering he’s only seen Calzaghe fight twice against Peter Manfredo and Jeff Lacy and has only seen clips of Kessler but there is something about fights staged in soccer arenas in Europe with thousands of rabid fans that creates an atmosphere that transcends the sport. That and the fact that he thinks Calzaghe is one of the best technical fighters he’s seen in years..

On top of all that, the fight will be on at five o’clock in the afternoon, so dear old dad won’t conk out before the opening bell. All that being said, and forgive me for getting a few zingers in on my dad, Calzaghe – Kessler has all the makings of being the fight of the year. The only problem with that is boxing fans have been treated to one great match up after another as the year winds down. We were blessed with Miguel Cotto’s demolition of Zab Judah in front of the biggest boxing crowd ever at Madison Square Garden and then shortly thereafter the much anticipated rematch between Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez. Vazquez and Marquez had already fought a classic in March of this year when Marquez stopped Vazquez in the 7th round. Vazquez set up a trilogy by stopping Marquez in the 6th round this past August in a fight that topped the first bout in terms of skill and guts. Then boxing fans were treated to one of the best middleweight title fights in years this past Saturday between Jermain Taylor and newly crowned champion Kelly Pavlik. Damn!

But the year isn’t even finished yet. Coming up we still have Miguel Cotto against Sugar Shane Mosley and Floyd Mayweather versus Ricky Hatton. It just doesn’t get any better than this, right? Yes, it does. We still have Calzaghe – Kessler which is a bout so many boxing fans have been waiting for. It pits the two best fighters in their division against each other in front of a massive live audience in Cardiff, Wales. The fight will be broadcast on HBO live at 5 PM Eastern Time and replayed at 10:30 PM that night.

Calzaghe has often been accused, particularly by the American press, of ducking opponents. His cause has never been helped by his constant hand injuries that could become a big factor against Kessler. But, in the final analysis, Calzaghe has been nothing short of brilliant during his long reign. Despite the fact that he seems shackled to Europe (he simply doesn’t feel the needfight in the United States as his compatriot Ricky Hatton does) he’s proven his greatness through longevity and intermittent great performances, most noticeably against American favorite Jeff Lacy. Calzaghe, an underdog, destroyed Lacy in a virtuoso performance that left many people waving off Calzaghe’s performance and instead saying Lacy was overrated. That wasn’t the case. Calzaghe was that good.

But every great fighter needs a great challenger to truly prove his worth, and this is where Kessler steps in. Kessler is big, strong and technically sound. Perhaps the only thing that Calzaghe holds over his challenger is hand speed. Well, Jermain Taylor had the speed factor in his favor against Kelly Pavlik and he wound up knocked out after his bigger, stronger challenger finally got to him. This could be the case when Calaghe and Kessler face off. However, Calzaghe has proven he knows how to win, even when he is being picked apart by his critics. He’s a fighter who turns it up a notch when he feels his back is against the wall.

It all winds itself up into a compelling match up – arguably the best of the year. My father certainly thinks so, and that’s good enough for me.

Article posted on 02.10.2007

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