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."

Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Environment
Pigeons have been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system
environmentCan species be 'de-extincted'?
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
A Pilgrim’s Progress is described by its publisher as “the one-and-only definitive record” of David Hockney's life and works
people
Sport
Loic Remy signs for Chelsea
footballBlues wrap up deal on the eve of the transfer window
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker
TV
Life and Style
Instagram daredevils get thousands of followers
techMeet the daredevil photographers redefining urban exploration with death-defying stunts
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'
TVDaughter says contestant was manipulated 'to boost ratings'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: One of SThree's most successfu...

Nursery Manager

£10 - £11 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: Nursery Manager We are loo...

Early Years Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Early Years supply teachers neede...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Progressive Rec.

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Progressive Recruitment are cu...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor