Boxing: Battler Calzaghe triumphs against Kessler

Joe Calzaghe was crowned undisputed world super-middleweight champion in Cardiff tonight after a victory over Mikkel Kessler which secured his place in the pantheon of great post-war fighters.

The 35-year-old Welshman was forced to draw on every inch of his experience and skills to repel the Dane by scores of 117-111, 116-112 (twice) on the judges' cards and add the WBC and WBA titles to the WBO belt he successfully defended for the 21st time.

There were moments when it seemed Kessler - who came to Cardiff with a 39-fight unbeaten record - might be the man to ruin Calzaghe's big night in front of 50,000 fans. However, the Welshman's immense fighting heart proved decisive.

Calzaghe came on strong in the later rounds and his multi-dimensional approach paid dividends against an opponent who, whilst hugely talented, fought upright behind a stiff left jab.

It added up to an enthralling contest which lived up to every inch of its illustrious billing, and one which will ensure the superlatives are finally foisted upon Calzaghe after over a decade reigning as champion.

Calzaghe had been woken up by two crisp lefts in the opening round but there were misplaced hopes of an early night in the third, when Kessler toppled backwards but it was deemed a slip by referee Mike Ortega.

There was no doubt Kessler was setting the early pace. He cracked home a trademark right in round four and provided a timely reminder to Calzaghe not to throw caution to the wind.

A superb right uppercut also jolted back Calzaghe's head in a superb spell of boxing by the Dane, and another beautiful left through the gap in round five underlined Kessler's ability.

But Calzaghe enjoyed a much better sixth as he began to pick his shots, and built up his momentum during the second half of the fight to slowly squeeze the victory away from the Dane.

Calzaghe was on top early in the seventh round, clattering home hooks from either hand, although he was clearly wobbled by a long right over the top by Kessler who came back strongly.

Calzaghe was reprimanded by referee Ortega towards the end of round eight for hitting round the back of Kessler's head and during the break in the action promoter Frank Warren urged his fighter to employ body shots more.

Kessler, though, was beating him to the punch and landed two powerful lefts in round nine. There was a real urgency to Calzaghe's work as he faced the very real prospect of losing his long unbeaten record.

Still on his toes and with no sign of his stamina seeping away at the age of 35, Calzaghe chased his composed opponent and finally established the upper hand.

As he entered the final three minutes, Calzaghe was at his irresistible best, landing with hooks from either hand and successfully repelling Kessler's desperate advances to close out a magnificent contest.

"I knew it was going to be one of the toughest fights of my life, Kessler is a fantastic fighter in his prime," the Newbridge man told Setanta Sports.

"It's not bad for a 35-year-old!

"I'm so proud of my efforts, the efforts of my Dad and Frank (Warren) who put this together.

"It's so sweet, I was struggling at the end, I was a bit tired. But I felt I controlled the fight and was proud of my performance."

Speaking of the nature of the fight, Calzaghe added: "I realised after a few rounds the jab was too fast for him. When I put my boxing together he couldn't get past the jab.

"There was a bit of ring rust but I won the fight. I think it was a good performance by myself, I felt pretty sharp but made a few mistakes.

"That's boxing. You never stop learning.

"I'm fantastically proud. It was awesome."

Promoter Warren, meanwhile, said: "It's my best moment in sport.

"I'm so proud of him. He gave everything."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The beat is on: Alfred Doda, Gjevat Kelmendi and Orli Shuka in ‘Hyena’
filmReview: Hyena takes corruption and sleaziness to a truly epic level
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable