Promoted by European powerhouse Team Palle and bolstered by a big publicity campaign, Denmark's unbeaten champion Mikkel Kessler had been heralded as the next great superstar in boxing. He even toured the U.S. last year to introduce himself to American fans for future fights in this country. In Los Angeles, his movie star good looks had Hollywood execs drooling, and many -- including Kessler -- compared him to the camera-friendly Oscar De La Hoya.
Librado Andrade was the polar opposite. Although unbeaten and ranked number one for Kessler's belt, he had boxed completely under the publicity radar, despite being a Golden Boy Promotions fighter. His resume was good, not great, and he was trained by Wayne McCullough, who although a former world champion, was only in his first year as a coach.
So the stage was set for Kessler, who was 38-0, in the cozy confines of the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, where over 20,000 adoring fans had come to celebrate another victory for their Danish Prince Charming.
Expected to be a tough fight for Kessler, the Dane used superior movement and ring generalship to dominate Andrade on the scorecards, sweeping every round for the judges, who all scored it, 120-108. But this was far from a walk in the park for Kessler.
Despite taking an enormous amount of precision punches from Kessler, Andrade (24-1) seemed unfazed by the Dane's vaunted power and actually was the aggressor for most of the fight. Kessler used tremendous footwork to keep the powerful Andrade from getting inside and working the body. As a result, the fight was fought in the center of the ring, where Kessler was clearly the greater boxer.
The fight was never in doubt. The only doubt raised by Kessler's dominating performance was whether the Dane is as powerful a puncher as he has been reported to be. Perhaps it was simply a case of Kessler running into a rugged Mexican-American fighter with a chin of granite. But the fact that Kessler landed an enormous amount of clean power punches and couldn't stop Andrade from coming forward raised questions that will have to be answered.
An even bigger question is what's next for Kessler? During the week preceding this fight, Frank Warren, who promotes Joe Calzaghe made no secret of the fact that he hoped Andrade would win because it would be easier to make a fight with Golden Boy than Kessler's camp. Both Kessler and Calzaghe have said repeatedly they wouldn't fight in the other guy's backyard.
Ultimately, the stalemate between Calzaghe, who first must get past Peter Manfredo Jr. on April 7 in England on HBO's World Championship Boxing, may be resolved by the lure of a mega-bucks fight in Las Vegas, and major exposure on American TV, which both crave. Let the games begin.
Posted 12:00 AM | Oct 21, 2009
HBO BAD - Mar. 24, 2007