Joe Calzaghe's Secret Weapon....Mikkel Kessler Better Watch Out!

joe calzaghe25.10.07 - By Wray Edwards: If Calzaghe is able to use his right arm to tie up Kessler's left as he did around 90 times against Lacy, Kessler's in trouble. It is a very effective tactic. When the boxers close for toe-to-toe action, Joe hooks his right over his opponent's left, then, gets it caught on the other guy's chest. As the other guy tries to free it up or punch with it, it gets even more wedged and immobilized. Joe does this mostly when the ref is to his left, with a poor view of the move. Doubt this? Watch the videos.

Meanwhile, Calzaghe cuffs away with his left, which distracts the ref from catching effective sight of what he's doing with his right, and builds busy points with the judges. Most refs, seeing that at least one hand is free for both guys, and that they are "punching", will not separate them. Many times, when Joe tries this ploy with the ref to his right, the ref will see it and reach out to pull the arm-lock apart. It is an amazing skill which is very effective. On the outside, Joe's boxing skills are also effective at points building and cutting up his opponent's face leading to a lot of TKO's..

He is most certainly not a KO artist...I count just two in his record (one of whom was only a .550 boxer), whereas Kessler has eighteen KO’s. In short, Joe is, IMO, a boxer/slapper/“wrestler”, and Kessler is a boxer/puncher/brawler. It will be interesting to see if Kessler can stay out of Joe's arm trap.

For a guy who has been nursing his WBO title for ten long years by, some would say, cherry-picking his opponents, to face a young lion with not one, but two belts is seminal. Joe’s demur regarding his IBF mandatory with Alejandro Berrio was probably illustrative of his unification perspective at the time. Not only that, but now Bute is lurking in the wings. Perhaps Joe is trying to fill out his unification resume at this late date to belatedly establish a legacy position for himself in the young 168 division.

This will only be Joe’s second unification contest in ten years which has to be some kind of record for avoiding “champions” from other 168 sanctions since they mushroomed on the Boxing scene. And this trend only started, after nine years of sitting on his WBO egg, when he fought Lacy.

If Calzaghe wins convincingly, perhaps this fight will hush his critics and they will have to rethink their skepticism. If Kessler should significantly outpoint Calzaghe or stop him by TKO or KO, those who have been unimpressed with Joe’s career choices will say “I told you so”.

Personally, I can’t understand why Joe did not try for unification earlier in his career. He certainly is an exciting and eye-pleasing athlete. His obvious talents should have been sufficient to the task. Maybe every time he considered such a move, someone was passing through, or soon to arrive at 168 who was too threatening. Either way he has only recently shown such grit.

As for leaving the shelter of the United Kingdom, Calzaghe has only ventured forth twice, once to Denmark and another time all the way to Germany. Perhaps he has been kept on a short leash by his manager. By comparison, he makes his homie Ricky Hatton look like a globe-trotting adventurer. One would think that a so called “world title” would have been defended on a much larger stage than Joe has chosen to date. To nestle in Cardiff for home town support might be comforting, but it does seem excessively reclusive and has resulted in an impression that he is shy.

It has certainly hampered and delayed his chances for global fame and recognition. Can you imagine him choosing to defend his title in Las Vegas? It seems almost laughable to even suggest it. Not so for the equally reclusive Kessler who has already fought there and in Australia. They have both made an art out of staying home. So boxers from all over the world have made the pilgrimage to the U.K. in search of the WBO title. That in itself is amazing considering the relative credence of holding a title from that somewhat fringy sanction.

If anything, a guy with that title should be out proving his metal by tracking down holders of other titles all over the world. If anything, Joe should be fighting Kessler in Copenhagen. Why? That’s where the prizes are. Certainly one does not consider that Kessler has agreed to go to Cardiff to acquire the WBO strap. IMO he’s going there to defeat Calzaghe and make a point. If successful, I predict that Mikkel will spread his wings and search and destroy his way around the planet in order to gain credibility and reap the obvious financial rewards of such a campaign.

Kessler, who is seven years junior to Calzaghe, is only four behind in career bouts. He is tracking to have a much larger body count than Joe after all is said and done. His resolute points victories over Mundine and Beyer are very clear assays of his prowess. Those two guys were far from pushovers. As stated above, if he falls prey to Calzaghe’s arm-lock techniques, he might easily find himself handcuffed to a UD loss.

Joe has fast hands but not nearly the punching power of Mikkel. The trade-offs in this contest are interesting and it should be a very good contest. Too bad we have to wait any longer. See you at the fights.

Article posted on 25.10.2007

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