Kessler vs. Ward: Breakdown and Prediction

Kessler vs WardBy Ted Sares - He’s very fast. He throws nice jabs and then follows up with a right or left. He’s a one, two, fighter. He’s the best one-two combination puncher out there --Librado Andrade on Kessler.

I’m ready! -- Andre Ward

When Olympic Gold Medal winner Andre “S.O.G.” Ward (20-0) meets Mikkel Kessler on November 21 in Oakland, CA, he will learn that the “Viking Warrior: (42-1) is neither Shelby Pudwill nor Edison Miranda. What he will discover is that Kessler has fought far superior opposition, has solid technical skills, and has extremley heavy hands capable of sending Ward into Marin County Dreamland.

Power - Kessler has the clear edge. His KO% is 74.42; Ward’s is 65, but The Dane achieves clean knockouts while S.O.G.’s come by way of stoppage, cuts, or DQ‘s.

Chin - Kessler has the clear edge. Ward has been hurt (by Kenny Kost) and he has been down (by Daniel Boone). Kessler has a granite chin..

Quality of opposition

Kessler has a monumental edge here. For every Dhafir Smith (16-15-5) Ward has fought, the Dane has fought a Jamie “Rocky” Balboa (64-25-1). For every Miranda Ward has fought, Kessler has duked with Librado Andrade (24-0 coming in), Markus Beyer (34-2-1 coming in), Eric Lucas (38-6-3 coming in), Dingaan Thobela (40-9-1 at the time), and Tony Menefee (72-8-1). For every Darnell Boone, the Dane has fought Joe Calzaghe and Anthony Mundine. Ward iced Jerson Ravelo, but Kessler has iced Julio Cesar Green, Henry Porras (26-1), Craig Cummings (51-4-1), and some thirty others. As well, The Viking Warrior has gone to war with seven different world champions.


Ward is a stylist who showed good stuff against Miranda, but the Colombian bomber was a willing opponent. He uses great hand speed, stiff jabs and straight lefts along with excellent ring movement to win his fights. With great amateur credential, he has a high ring IQ and knows what he is doing most of the time, but he is not as good a closer as Kessler. He is content to win a decision rather than risk going for the kill. Against Miranda, he showed he could fight well inside and proved quite versatile.

Unlike Ward, Kessler blends big power with fine technical skills and pressure to beat his opponents. This was best shown when he shut out rugged Librado Andrade in 2007 by scores of 120--108. Against the great Joe Calzaghe, the Dane lost but still showed off his great ring abilities. The cards were 117-111, 116-112, 116-112. Calzaghe started slowly but took control in the mid rounds and showed incredible grit down the stretch to win the unanimous, albeit close decision

To sum up their differences, Ward has a considerable arsenal of skills, but so does the more orthodox Kessler--along with impressive power

The Outcome

On paper, this one would appear easy to predict, but given Ward’s athleticism and speed, he could well make this a far more difficult fight for the WBA World super middleweight tile holder. Nevertheless, Mikkel Kessler is the super star and Andre Ward is the upstart challenger.

That said, I can see Ward staying on the outside with good movement content to jab and use his body shots and occasional hooks to keep Kessler at bay. If he can do this, he can win a decision. Joe Calzaghe laid out the blueprint, but Ward is no Calzaghe. And Kessler didn’t become a champion by winning easy fights. Sooner or later, I see him closing the gap as he stalks Ward (who has never before been in such a pressure-filled fight) from the outset using his patented one-two. If he is able to catch him in a corner or on the ropes (or even in the middle of the ring), he will, in my opinion, buzz him--and if Kost and Boone can hurt Ward, Kessler will wax him in the same manner as he did Markus Beyer.

The thing is, Kessler can knock Andre out, but Andre cannot knock Kessler out. Ward will be the runner and Kessler will be the chaser. Sooner or later, he will catch his prey and finish matters decisively.

Both fighters have now done their part by dispatching their dreadful warm-up foes. Now the real thing looms. Let the hype begin.

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Article posted on 15.09.2009

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