Why Calzaghe will prevail

02.11.07 - By Geoffrey Ciani: The long awaited championship showdown between undefeated super middleweights is finally here. Tomorrow, in what might well go down as the most significant fight in the history of the weight class, long-time champion Joe Calzaghe will face the biggest challenge in his boxing career when he squares off against unified champ, Mikkel Kessler..

joe calzagheThe winner of this contest will most likely go down as the greatest the young division has ever seen. In what should prove to be an interesting clash of styles, these two pugilists are pretty evenly matched, which should make for a fairly entertaining encounter. Overall, despite the fact I do not believe either fighter has a clear-cut advantage over the other, I do believe one fighter will ultimately reign supreme, and that fighter is Calzaghe.

Joe Calzaghe is a crafty veteran with extremely fast hands. He is determined and experienced, and has an almost obscene work rate. Not only does he throw a lot of punches, but he has an uncanny ability for throwing them in bunches. His punching technique may not be the best in the business, but his sheer volume of punches has mesmerized nearly all of his opponents. This, I believe, will be Kessler’s undoing.

Mikkel Kessler is a solid fighter with great discipline and sound fundamentals. In many ways, I view him as being the more complete boxer of the two. He has an effective jab, which enables him to set up his power shots; unlike Calzaghe, he also has tremendous punching technique. Typically, these tools have enabled Kessler to control the tempo of his previous bouts. As such, Kessler usually finds a way to systematically break down his opponents. Unfortunately for Kessler, I don’t believe he will be successful doing this against someone with a tenacious style like Calzaghe.

Kessler certainly has the tools to beat Calzaghe. In fact, I believe Kessler may well be the best fighter Calzaghe has ever faced—even better than Chris Eubank and certainly better than Jeff Lacy. Even though Kessler is a great fighter who possesses the ability to win this match, he is going to fall short. I find it extremely unlikely that Kessler will be able to win via knockout—Calzaghe is too resourceful and knows how to survive. I am also hard-pressed to envision a scenario wherein Kessler squeaks out a decision in Calzaghe’s own backyard.

It is Calzaghe’s punch output that I believe will pave the way to victory.

All too often in the past, Calzaghe opponents have been overwhelmed by Joe’s relentlessness. When Calzaghe starts throwing a high volume of punches, his befuddled foes often make the mistake of trying to match him punch for punch, which is the not the best way to go about it against a seasoned pro like Joe—his stamina is simply too good. I suspect Kessler will fall victim to the same tactics, albeit, probably more competitively and gracefully than most before him.

Kessler can win this bout if he maintains his composure and sticks to his game plan. This means he cannot attempt to match Calzaghe punch for punch. If Calzaghe is successful in drawing Kessler into his type of fight, Kessler is going to be in for a long evening. If, on the other hand, Kessler is able to weather the storm without straying from his fight plan—one that involves carefully picking his shots—then fans are going to be treated to a sensational match-up.

I firmly believe that in order to beat Calzaghe, a fighter cannot allow Joe to dictate the terms of the fight, as has been the case so often in the past. An elite fighter like Bernard Hopkins has the skills and experience to prevent Joe from imposing his will on him; I am not so sure the same can be said of Kessler.

In the end, I believe Calzaghe will be triumphant. Joe has recently indicated that he only intends to fight on for another year, stating he wants to be one of the few pugilists to retire on top and go out with an undefeated record. Only time will tell if he succeeds in this goal. Should he beat Kessler in convincing fashion, he may have no choice but to face Hopkins in his career finale, and that would be a most interesting prospect, indeed.

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Article posted on 02.11.2007

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