Dark Horse Kessler Keeps Plugging Away

19.01.07 - By John Stanley: Mikkel Kessler (38-0, 29 KOs) continues his quest to prove he’s ‘Simply The Best’ super middleweight as he defends his WBC title against dangerous Mexican Librado Andrade (24-0, 18 KOs) in a bout whose date has yet to be confirmed. The Dane has secured home advantage, following a fuss over where the bout would be staged and whether it would even go ahead after rumours that the WBC held bias toward the Mexican mandatory.

There were many who hoped for Golden Boy Promotions to win last Monday's purse bid, on the grounds that it would’ve granted Kessler wider exposure. But Palm Promotions beat both Golden Boy and Team Palle (promoter of Kessler) to the punch, landing the bout in Denmark.

mikkel kessler(Hans-Henrik Palm is a former European welterweight champion, who was promoted by Mogens Palle during the 1970s.)

Just as Kessler misses out on much needed HBO exposure, super middleweight leader Joe Calzaghe makes his second appearance on the cable giant, when he takes on former Contender Peter Manfredo, Jr on a mammoth show at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, in April.

Calzaghe hammered Jeff Lacy on Showtime last March, adding the IBF crown to the WBO version he's held since 1997 (Joe has since vacated the IBF trinket) in that breakthrough performance. Ironically, Kessler matched this by winning his own unification last October, destroying Markus Beyer in three (to nab the WBC version, and inherit Andrade as mandatory).

With Kessler taking on a far tougher foe than the Welshman is facing, it adds to the notion that the Dane's closing in fast. Andrade is no cream puff - at 6' 2 he's a huge 168-pounder, and he packs a severe punch, as 18 of 24 of his victims have found out.

For Kessler, who won the WBA crown with an eighth round stoppage of Manny Siaca in 2004, the win would merit him consideration on pound for pound lists.

In spite of wins over six current or former world title holders (Markus Beyer, Anthony Mundine, Julio Cesar Green, Siaca, Dingaan Thobela and Eric Lucas), there is the risk that Kessler's substantial body of work may go unnoticed away from his home supporters.

But if he's going to go to America, he should do it on his own terms. Kessler's promoter was shocked when Golden Boy Promotions had successfully lobbied with the WBC to strip Kessler and upgrade Andrade to champion, had the fight been delayed.

Rather than being an 'away' fighter on a hostile promotion against the most testing foe of his career, 6' 1 Kessler promises yet another clinic before his home fans. With a superlative jab and an improving repertoire - including the left hook and sharp right cross that did away with Beyer - Kessler has to be favored against the powerful, Wayne McCullough trained Andrade (the brother of Enrique Ornelas, recently beaten by Sam Soliman).

Despite criticisms of him being a homeboy, the cool, poised Kessler came out of his comfort zone less than two years ago. In the first defense of the WBA crown taken from Manny Siaca (TKO8), Kessler trekked over to Oz for a fight with Anthony Mundine.

Suffering a bad back that hindered his training, Mikkel still managed to win a competitive decision, though judge Henk Meijers' shutout card seemed way out of line. That Mundine would go on to outclass Danny Green helps put Kessler's achievement into some perspective.

Though a unification with Calzaghe seems a natural, the bout is unlikely to ever happen. Calzaghe's reaction to Kessler's unification win wasn't as expected - instead of being slighted at his rival's claims to being the top 168-pounder, Joe is keen to build on his stateside standing against the popular, promising but inexperienced Manfredo.

It will mark his twentieth defense of the WBO crown won from Chris Eubank back in 1997.

Middleweight puncher Edison Miranda or ShoBox super middleweight Anthony Hanshaw could be in the running for Calzaghe's stateside debut.

If the very best aren't able to square off, arguments will still rage on. But it's likely that Calzaghe and promoter Frank Warren will be secretly hoping that Andrade puts Kessler away with one of those crunching right hands.

Article posted on 20.01.2007

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