Though it didn't merit many press mentions in the lead up to what was the best performance of Joe Calzaghe's career, Calzaghe proved that his age has nothing to do with his ability as a fighter or future stock as a lasting figure in the super middleweight division. In fact, after his unanimous and controlling victory tonight over Mikkel Kessler in front of a near-capacity crowd of 50,000 fans, Calzaghe's stamina and youth-like ability to exert his will over his opponents both placed him into a special league of fighter and showed his marketability as a serious fixture in the boxing world. Clearly with Joe Calzaghe, 35 is the new 25.
While the fight started off more evenly than the end result: a near-shut out for Calzaghe, who out-scored Kessler an average of ten rounds to two, it was Calzaghe's controlled yet abstract style and his craftiness that allowed him to flummox Kessler as the fight progressed. Switching styles in mid-round, adapting his strategy between rounds, and mixing his attacks, left the Danish fighter struggling to find rhythm or set up any major attacks.
Besides a strong rally from Kessler in the fourth round, who began to find openings in Calzaghe's offense with precise uppercuts, Kessler's best efforts found themselves on the receiving end of endless jabs from Calzaghe. Establishing the jab early and showing the trademark hand speed that stopped Lacy, Bika and Manfredo before Kessler, Calzaghe began to climb ahead in the cards after the fourth.
It wasn't until the eighth round until Kessler was able to open Calzaghe's defenses, which until that point had been a jab and combo campaign backing Kessler up and forcing him around the ring. Knowing that an aggressive round was needed to pull himself back into the fight, Kessler pressed Calzaghe with several impressive attacks, to find that aggression was met with aggression squared, as his opponent not only fought back harder but managed to wobble Kessler with a sharp right hand to the body. Though the action was momentarily stopped by a warning to Calzaghe, Kessler admitted after the fight that indeed he was hurt.
To his credit, Kessler walked into each round with the determination of a true warrior, never backing down from Calzaghe and even when the judges' cards were as good as filed with the commission, Kessler was swinging for a 12th round KO.
HBO WCB - Nov. 3, 2007
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