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."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there