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

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore