Middleweight beltholder Peter Quillin could soon defend his WBO title against promotional stablemate Danny Jacobs.
Dougie's MASSIVE Monday Mailbag
What up Doug? Great win for Andre Ward on Saturday. He’s a good guy who's good for the sport. With that belt around his waist his confidence will only grow. I love the way he broke Mikkel Kessler down. He fought a smart fight, inside and out. The Dane may have had a point about head butting, I don't think it was intentional. He came off as a bit of a whiner. Love your work bro, keep it up. Happy holidays to you and yours. -- William, South Carolina
Ward was nothing short of brilliant against Kessler in my opinion. I did NOT see that coming.
It’s not that I couldn’t envision Ward winning the fight, I just didn’t think he could shutout a strong, young vet like Kessler. I was very wrong. I didn’t score a single round for THE RING’s No. 1-rated super middleweight.
Ward’s going to make a big jump in the magazine’s 168-pound ratings in this week’s update. I think he deserves to be right up there with No. 2-rated Lucien Bute, who I think will repeat his points win over Librado Andrade this Saturday but without the final-round controversy.
I agree that Ward is good for the sport, especially in the Bay Area of the U.S. where he’s a bona fide draw and may single-handedly jumpstart the fight scene.
His victory over Kessler was definitely good for the Super Six. By upsetting the tournament favorite, he gave hope to American fans who were beginning to think the U.S. fighters had no chance, and suddenly made Kessler’s Group Stage 2 bout with Carl Froch seem very interesting.
What can I say about Kessler? I thought he would be too much for the younger man and he got his ass handed to him. I can understand his post-comments even though I don‘t agree with him. In an 11-year, 43-bout pro career he had never been schooled and whupped on like that. He couldn‘t comprehend what had happened, so he had to blame it on something.
We were talking on Friday about how the beltline used to be a legal area, and then on Saturday, Ward works the beltline and the ref allows it. I don't know if you could see it, but every time Ward tagged Kessler with borderline shots, both Kalle and Wilfred Sauerland jumped out of their chairs and started yelling furiously at the ref. In my opinion, the ref was more of an old school ref than a hometown ref, allowing more of the roughhouse tactics and allowing lower shots.
Do you think the outcome would have been drastically different if the fight was refereed by someone like the ref from the Abraham-Taylor fight? Personally, I don't think so but the Sauerlands are trying to spin it that way. -- Waldo Rastel, Berkeley, CA
I think Jack Reiss is an excellent official and I believe, like you, that he’s got an old-school approach to refereeing. What I mean by that is that he isn’t over-officious. He’d going to let the fighters fight and not get involved unless there’s a blatant foul or if one of the fighter’s gets seriously hurt or injured.
I prefer old-school third-man mentality to the kind of refs that get over-involved and suck the life and momentum out of a fight.
The Sauerlands would have preferred the ref who officiated the Abraham-Taylor bout because he allowed their guy (Abraham) to get away with blatant elbows all night while he called any borderline body shot from Taylor a “low blow” (and I admit that one of them was indeed a low shot). However, I believe that if the ref had prevented King Arthur’s roughhouse tactics the outcome would have been the same in the Taylor fight. Same thing with Saturday’s fight. I don’t think Ward would have been any less effective if Reiss was warning him for low blows or for coming in with his head or whatever.
The bottom line is that Ward’s speed and movement took away Kessler’s jab and basically rendered him impotent. I hate to phrase it that way but that’s what happened.
NO INSIDE GAME FROM KESSLER
While much was made of Kessler's advantage in experience over Ward, it seems that he was totally unprepared to fight on the inside, and said so much afterwards ("I'm not used to...."). Ward's inside tactics may have been rough and physical, but they seemed totally within bounds of what one might expect in a championship fight, at least on our fair continent. Surely Kessler had faced someone in his long title runs who had attempted to make up for technical and athletic disadvantages by turning the fight into a tough, perhaps ugly, physical battle on the interior. It's hard to imagine any American (or Latino) fighter rising to Kessler's status without having to overcome at least a couple of rough, tough Mexican types who would have forced him to survive an inside war. Are there no such fighters in Europe? Or do referees in Europe handle such fights in a way that prevents this type of action, leaving guys like Kessler able to flex pure technical superiority over outclassed foes (not that Ward would have been outclassed even if the refereeing had been different)?
Huge credit to Ward. He was tough, smart, athletic, mostly disciplined, and versatile. Kessler has only lost in the past to greatness, and my sense is that Ward's performance last night was as close to matching Calzaghe's as anyone Kessler has ever faced. Calzhage's formula for dominance over a long period of years was speed, versatility, toughness, befuddling his opposition, and a great chin. Ward seems to have many of these things in his toolkit as well.
Part of what intrigues me about the Super Six is that with its balance of European and American fighters, we'll see some fights where guys might have to deal with a style or profile they've never faced before. For instance, as impressive as Abraham is, I'm really interested in seeing how he copes with the athleticism of guys like Dirrell and Ward.... a quick review of his record on Boxrec doesn't show fights against any athletes of that caliber (except a faded Taylor). Best. -- Sugar Sam, Chicago, IL
The challenge of new styles is definitely what makes the Super Six so intriguing. Abraham has never faced a fighter with the speed and agility of ‘The Dres’, while Ward and Dirrell have never faced a fighter with King Arthur’s power-peek-a-boo style.
Kessler’s weakness has always been his inability to really let punches go on the inside but he had faced a few tough-in-your-face types on his rise to the top of the division, mainly Mexico’s Librado Andrade and Puerto Rico’s Manny Siaca, who he dominated. However, Andrade and Siaca lacked the speed and savvy to get past Kessler’s jab and get inside where they could either try to outwork him (as Calzaghe often did when in close) or hold him (as Ward did during the first half of the bout). I think Kessler was as prepared as one can be for Ward, it’s just a fact that the Bay Area badass has a unique, mercurial style.
I don’t know if European boxers are less likely to employ rough stuff in close or if the referees are quicker to admonish fighters for holding or for roughhouse tactics. Ricky Hatton, Froch, and Abraham are all rough customers who get away with a lot of rough stuff when fighting at home. I recall Nigel Benn and Dennis Andries were rough, tough dudes. And if memory serves me right Henry Maske certainly wasn’t above clinching, holding and/or grabbing in close when he needed a breather or if he wanted to disrupt
I think it’s safe to say that Kessler faced all kinds of styles in Europe, just not one like Ward’s.
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF WARD?
It was good seeing you at the fight last night in Oakland! I thought Ward looked like he was going to stop Kessler one way or the other when the doctor called the fight on cuts. Ward basically upended the tournament favorite, and may have now supplanted him as the new favorite to win the whole thing.
I'm starting to see a poor man's Bernard Hopkins in Ward's emerging style. It doesn't seem like he's particularly spectacular in any one area to me, but he is very effective at shutting down his opponents' ability to get their offense going, and then sort of breaking their will to win shortly thereafter.
It doesn't look like he has developed Hopkins' knack of talking his way into his opponents' heads yet though, and last night at the post fight press conference it seemed like Virgil Hunter was doing some smack talking for Andre when he started sniping at Kessler's management team from the side of the dais.
What did you think of his performance? -- gopal rao
I thought Ward boxed the best boxing exhibition I’ve seen this year.
Had the fight continued I believe Ward would have gunned for a KO late in the 11th round and in the 12th. Members of his team told me that was the plan.
I can see some parallels to Nard’s style, however Ward is gifted with speed and reflexes that Hopkins lacked (B-Hop is stronger, though). Ward is 25 years old and in his prime. I don’t think he needs to develop any sort of psychological warfare to give him an edge in his fights. His focus, faith, style, athleticism, and dedication to the sport is enough of an edge against anyone.
It was nice meeting you and the other Bay Area boxing writers and fans at Oracle Arena and the Airport Hilton this weekend. I’m glad Ward won because that means he will return to his hometown to defend his title soon and I’ll be sure to make the trip to cover him from ringside. I love the Bay Area.
WARD MORE IMPRESSIVE THAN PACMAN?
In your opinion Ward’s win was more impressive than the Manny's? Really! Maybe you stayed up too late writing this article and forgot about last
Saturday. Hey, I'll be the first one to give major props to Ward for
fighting a good fight and dominating the Dane. Was it a thing of beauty, no way, it was a clinchy (both parties fault) and full of accidental head butts. I expected slightly more from Kessler, but he is still way weaker opposition than Cotto. Manny's punches were economical and powerful and he turned hard ass Cotto into Hector Camacho. Ward just exposed Kessler as a one dimensional rhythm dependent fighter. I think Froch grueling style or Abraham herky-jerky style could have done the same thing last night. I'm no Pac-oholic either. I never forgave him for his demolishing of Morales in the third fight but that performance against Cotto was a thing of beauty.
To me it looks like the whole super middle weight division was overrated. Hey, I still love the fact they are fighting but am I to be impressed with Abraham getting rid of Taylor, hell no. Froch wining a slightly dubious decision while Dirrell slept. Ward was impressive but no world beater. I even give Taylor a shot against him, styles make fights. I think what makes this tourney exciting to me is seeing who these guys really are as they fight other top guys, not weak-ass mandatories. Maybe no classic fights but a classic concept. -- Adam G. Tennant
I’m not saying Ward is more impressive than Pacquiao, or that his victory was more meaningful than Pacquiao’s TKO of Cotto. What I wrote in my post-fight column is that I was more impressed with his PERFORMANCE than Pac’s against Cotto or Mayweather’s against Marquez. I explained why in the article, but here I go again with more detail for you.
Pacquiao was the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, the reigning 140-pound champ, and a boxer who had been ranked as high as No. 5 at welterweight (following his De La Hoya TKO) prior to the Cotto fight. Cotto was ranked No. 3 at welterweight. Pac, who has more experience than Cotto, was a 2-to-1 favorite in that fight.
Ward was the No. 8-ranked super middleweight going into the Kessler fight. He was unranked prior to his victory over Edison Miranda in May. Kessler, who has won three major titles, had been RING-ranked for 259 consecutive weeks. He was the No. 1-rated super middleweight going into Saturday’s fight. He had never received a beating in the ring. His one loss was to a future hall of famer (Calzaghe) and he was competitive in that fight. And at age 30, he is still in his prime. Ward was a 3-to-1 underdog.
That’s why his domination of Kessler was more impressive to me than Pacquiao’s domination of Cotto.
I totally disagree with your dismissive thoughts on Kessler and the super middleweight division. Kessler is not a one-dimensional fighter. Ward MADE him one-dimensional on Saturday. The 168-pound division is one of the deepest and most talented in the sport. I think it’s deeper than the star-studded welterweight division. I know that the top four at 147 are elite fighters, but who do we have beyond Pac, Mosley, Mayweather and Cotto (and maybe Clottey)?
With the Super Six participants, Bute and Andrade we‘ve got eight solid 168 pounders, and you can toss in Sakio Bika and Allan Green for a very solid top 10.
WARD WAS INSPIRATIONAL
I'm a long-time reader and fan of your articles and mailbags, but I've only written to you 2 or 3 times before. However, what I saw this past weekend i found, in 1 word, inspirational. What a performance by Ward! I just had to write about it.
I guess I feel a little vindicated, because I remember the first time I saw him fight as a pro, against Andy Kolle (I'm Dutch so fights of young up-and-comers that aren't covered by big-time broadcasters are usually inaccessible to me), and his talent just seemed mind-blowing to me, and I came away thinking "I hope to see this guy against serious opposition soon" but like many fans I became frustrated over time by the pace at which his career was moved.
But boy did he live up to his potential Saturday night! Now I've only been following boxing since around 2001 so I don't know exactly how highly regarded Genaro Hernandez was when a 21-year-old Mayweather whupped him to win his first title, but I imagine the feeling people had about Mayweather's performance at the time must have been something very similar to what Ward made people feel this weekend. Do you think this performance ranks up there with that one? And while you're at it, do you think Ward has the potential to become that good?
I guess there's really no way to tell, but I do know this; after this performance he has to be considered one of the big favourites to win this tournament, and I even think he has a decent chance to win it and come out undefeated. I know it's hard to be objective after watching a performance like that, but seriously, who in this tournament would you favor to beat him? Even money maybe for Abraham (who I am a big fan of), and possibly for Dirrell as well, but that's about it. I actually think that Dirrell, the only guy in the tourney who's not slower than Ward, maybe even a shade quicker, could well be his most difficult opponent stylistically.
One guy who I'm pretty sure will NOT be his most difficult opponent is Jermain Taylor, and you have to wonder if this fight should take place. To me, Taylor is something of a poor man's Kessler, and after the punishment he's been taking recently, is anybody really comfortable with seeing him go up against a guy who is über-talented, oozing with confidence and who just beat up a guy who does just about everything Taylor does only better? I understand that Jermain is a grown-ass man, and if he passes his medical tests and makes a choice as a man to step in there we have to respect that, but still…
Anyway, I hope I didn't make it too long, I'm curious as always about your opinions. Keep up the good work, I will keep reading! -- Richie Leon
It was long but Ward’s performance was worth at least one “über-glowing” email like this one.
Here are my opinion for whatever they are worth (remember, I had Kessler beating Ward):
I don’t want to see Ward-Taylor because I think the younger, fresher man embarrasses him early and punishes him late.
Abraham is still my favorite to win the tournament but Ward became my second favorite with his domination of Kessler.
However, just because he schooled the Dane and will probably stop Taylor doesn’t mean he’s going to have an easy time in the tournament. He has to face his friend Dirrell in Group Stage 3 and who knows who he will have to fight in the semifinals? I think Abraham and even Froch can be more difficult (for different reasons obviously) than Kessler was, but we’ll see.
A member of Ward’s camp also compared the Kessler win with Mayweather’s first title-winning effort over Hernandez. I see the similarities in the matchup but if memory serves me right Mayweather was either even-money or a slight favorite to beat Chicanito, who was very respected but had shown signs of age and slowing down in his bouts leading into the Mayweather fight.
Mayweather was definitely more respected by fans and the media prior to his first title challenge than Ward was. I don’t think Ward’s talent comes close to equaling Mayweather’s but I believe that he can develop into a more accepted and even celebrated fight (though not necessarily as popular) because of his age, character and willingness to challenge himself.
HAS THE VIKING LOST IT?
Kudos to Andre Ward; to be sure he was seriously underrated going into this bout given his talent, confidence and the stylistic intrigue of the match up but I'm convinced that the Mikkel Kessler he faced last night wasn't the formidable presence who gave Joe Calzaghe one of the most competitive fights of his career. After a long layoff the Viking Warrior looked tentative and suspiciously flat in his tune up with Gusmyl Perdomo so last night's outcome really comes as no great surprise to me.
Not to detract from Ward's stellar boxing clinic but could it be that Kessler's injuries, his relative lack of activity in recent years, his legal wrangling with promoter Mogens Palle have all taken their toll on his body and psyche? Could it be that the Calzaghe loss has taken more out of him than he or anyone else suspected (as a European fight guy insider suggested, confided to me for whatever it's worth during IBHOF Induction Weekend this past June)? What was up with Palle keeping him at home, avoiding the big fights (read: pulling out against Miranda) for a couple of years after his impressive showing against Calzaghe which by all accounts should have left him on a high note?
Prior to the Perdomo bout, assuming he had still maintained peak form, I had Kessler winning the Super Six and was looking forward to a potential matchup with Chad Dawson down the road (a battle of two great jabbers, if not jabberers) but I see the Kessler who showed up last night getting KOd by Froch who'll bring considerably more heat, more pressure to the fray than Ward. Hope I'm wrong and that the Danish warrior regains his form, gets back on track and stays in the mix with the Super Six.
Loved yah at Max (with whom I still have a subscription) and lovin' yah with the Ring, keep punching! -- Eric T., Cary, N.C.
I don’t think the Calzaghe fight took anything away from Kessler, physically or psychologically, however, his inactivity (relative to the momentum he had prior to Calzaghe) may have effected his ability to get into a rhythm early in the fight. He admitted that he had to “knock off ring rust” with the Perdomo fight but maybe that bout didn’t go long enough to make up for the time off. Who knows?
Even if Kessler had been busy coming into Saturday’s fight, Ward would have still done things to nullify his jab which nixed his effective offense. Maybe the fight would have been more competitive early but I think Ward would have eventually achieved the same ending.
I think Kessler will get over his loss to Ward by the time he takes on Froch, and I think he‘ll be more comfortable with the Brit‘s swarming come-forward style than he was with Ward‘s lighting fast hit-move-hold-and-grapple tactics, but it‘s still going to be a good fight.
WARD MODERATELY IMPRESSIVE
I thought Andre fought a great fight in his first real step up fight. He's clearly the best American in the tournament.
Taylor is... well... Taylor . 'Nuff said.
Ward was much more impressive than Dirrell, who I thought deserved the nod against Froch, but didn't show any poise, only doing the bare minimum to win rounds, and holding on to Froch like a little kid to his mom's ankle on the first day of kindergarten.
I liked Ward's handspeed and footwork, and he showed the composure of a seasoned vet by doing lots of little things. He did excellent work on the inside where Kessler was clearly at a loss as to what to do.
But like Dirrell, it's not all lollipops and rainbows.
Like Kessler and Wilfred Sauerland have mentioned, Andre did duck in a lot without throwing a punch and then raising his head to butt Kessler. He seemed to do it once a round.
On top of this, to steal a segment from RingTv's own Ring Theory, "What no one is talking about", was that besides Ward's quick hands and footwork, what disrupted Kessler the most was Ward's posting with his left hand. He used it expertly. On the ropes to ensure Kessler couldn't trap him with shots, and in the center of the ring, to make Kessler short with his jab and countering with a right cross of his own. And without his jab, Kessler's offence never got going.
But I guess like holding, posting is just a standard tactic nowadays.
Here’s hoping Group Stage 2 is even more SuperTastic than Stage 1. -- Anthony, Montreal
Ward was indeed sticking that left out there but what was preventing Kessler from swatting it down (the way Wladdy Klitschko smacked down Sultan Ibragimov’s pawing jab) or knocking it aside with his left?
Ward ain’t all rainbows and lollipops (nobody in the tournament is, which is a good thing IMO) but he’s got the mind and heart of a real fighter. He proved that to me.
KESSLER HAS HIMSELF TO BLAME
Not entirely surprised with tonight's result, although I did agree spot-on with your pre-fight prediction. I mean, guys like Ward, (as long as their chins hold up), will always have a shot, regardless of who their opponents are (which is why I think John Ruiz may actually beat David Haye, but that's a different matter), and particularly if their opponents are stand-up-straight guys who load up on their power punches. The man is a deluxe version of a spoiler; he's not really in, say, Dirrell's class as far as raw talent, but he simply knows how to win and how to frustrate his opponent and disrupt his opponent's timing.
Kessler had a legitimate gripe with all the headbutts (not intentional, IMO, and more due to Ward's awkwardness and mostly from his southpaw stance) and the referee's inability to control the clinches adequately, but the Dane only has himself to blame. I mean, if it is true that the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, then Mikkel is crazier than Charlie Manson. He should have tried to slow Ward down with the jab and thrown the right hand down to Ward's chest, as well as adapted on the inside and thrown the uppercut. Also, big mistake in giving the first two rounds away, instead of trying to time Ward early and getting a feel for his rhythm and getting the crowd out of the fight and making Ward doubt that he even belonged in the ring with him.
I'm going out on a limb and saying that anybody who throws looping punches and gives him weird and crazy angles will trouble Abraham immensely, which is why the unpredictable Miranda did reasonably well against him the first time out, and why either Dirrell or Ward could beat him, and why Arthur did to Jermain (a jabbber) what he did, and why Abraham would be a BAD matchup for the straight-punching Kessler. I do believe that Kessler will beat the mediocre Froch (who got a gift from the Robin Hood-like judges in Nottingham last time out), and that Taylor (if his neurons hold up) will, surprisingly, be competitive against Ward.
God, it's a great time to be a boxing fan, innit, Dougie?!?! Our sport has no centralized governing body (and thus, sadly, no pension plan...), no marketing/hype machine like the UFC (and that means no Manny lunchboxes or Paul Williams action figures, like the UFC does), and a horrible reputation with the same mainstream media that has been trying to bury it for, literally, over a century... and we STILL get record-breaking PPV's, arenas FILLED with screaming hordes of people (like tonight) and, ALWAYS, great fights (and great stars!!) to look forward to. To borrow from the NBA slogan from the 80's, I love this game!!!!!! -- C.
Me too. I don’t care what the mainstream media jerks say about boxing or what UFC fans think about our sport, and I damn sure don’t care to see a “Money Mayweather” lunchbox (with autographed Leonard Ellerbe thermos). I want competitive matchups and good fights, and for the most part, I think the sport has delivered this year and will probably continue to do so next year.
The Super Six certainly helps, and I heard rumblings of HBO doing a four-man single-elimination tournament in the 140-pound division all this weekend while I was in Oakland (undefeated beltholder Devon Alexander, who I was told is in the running to be a part of it, was there). So there’s good things brewing beyond Pacquiao-Mayweather (which I’m already sick of discussing).
I think it’s going to take more than a boxer “who throws looping punches and gives him weird and crazy angles” to trouble King Arthur. Before his jaw was dislocated I thought he was handling Miranda in their first fight, and we all saw what happened in the rematch.
I think Kessler was frustrated for the first time as a professional fighter on Saturday and I’m sure his ego is hurt by the fact that he looked so clueless and bewildered at times against Ward. I think he’s going to seriously examine the tape of this fight and try to learn from it.
Whether or not he can add to his style at age 30, after 44 pro bouts, remains to be seen but if he makes it to the semifinals of this tournament we will find out.