By Cliff Rold
Showing both the determination evident in his 2010 win over Carl Froch, and the punching power that has marked him as one of the world’s best Super Middleweights for most of a decade, 33-year old former unified Super Middleweight titlist Mikkel Kessler (45-2, 34 KO) of Copenhagen, Denmark, survived a first round knockdown to decimate 32-year old Allan Green (31-4, 21 KO) of Tulsa, Oklahoma, with a single left hook in round four on Saturday night in front of an enthusiastic crowd at the Parken in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Contested in the Light Heavyweight division, both men came in well under the 175 lb. limit. Kessler weighed in at 169 ½ lbs. with Green slightly heavier at 171 ¾. Kessler and Green were originally slated to compete in 2010 in the third preliminary round of the “Super Six” Super Middleweight tournament. Kessler was forced to withdraw with an eye injury and Green went on to be stopped by replacement Glen Johnson in the eighth round.
Clearly, Kessler missed out on a semi-final slot in the tournament.
The referee was Ian John-Lewis.
Kessler was favored heading into the bout with the caveat being what it always is when Green is in the ring: Green can punch. Kessler found out in the opening frame.
After some tense feeling out in the early part of the round, Green struck paydirt with a massive overhand right. It was as hurt as Kessler has been at any point in his career since a ninth-round body blow from Joe Calzaghe in 2007 had Kessler in deep waters. His legs wobbled, Kessler covered up while Green came forward and landed a short hook around the guard. Spinning as Kessler looked to grab, the hometown favorite went to his knees.
Rising early in the count, Kessler nodded as Lewis doled out the mandatory eight. In trouble, Kessler looked to stay off the floor a second time. Green came forward with power shots but it was Kessler hinting at the conclusion in the last moments of the round. A big Kessler left hook rocked Green into the ropes and the crowd erupted as their man made his stand.
The effect of Green’s right hand was still there as round two began. Kessler still finding his legs. There was no retreat. Green, loose, continued to ply the jab while Kessler met him with the stick and occasionally went to the body. Late in the round, it was again Kessler finding a big left hook. Green’s legs wobbled and he went to the ropes, covering up and managing to avoid another damaging blow.
Green began the third moving to his left as Kessler pursued behind the jab. Just inside one minute passed in the round and Kessler’s left hook again found the chin of Green. Rocked, Green went on the defense as Kessler landed a shot to the body. Green weathered, blocking an uppercut and hook. Kessler pulled back, respectful of Green, and resumed a patient attack. They traded jabs at mid-ring, Kessler mixing up with the left lead to the belly. Kessler tried a big right and missed in the closing seconds, Green wrapping him up and lifting off the floor for a moment in a bear hug.
The left hook came close in each of the first three rounds. It couldn’t have landed any better than it did in the fourth.
Just moments into the round, both men at mid-ring trading jabs, Green made the mistake of relaxing after a measured left jab. Preparing to launch another left, Green never saw his end coming. Kessler surged forward, unleashing a nuclear lead left hook flush across the cheek. Green went backwards with his left hand still letting go, flat on his back as his head struck the canvas. Lewis didn’t bother to count long, Green clearly asleep at 17 seconds of round four.
Green suffers his third defeat in five contests, also including a lopsided loss to Ward in round two of the “Super Six.”
The Viking Warrior wins his third straight and the WBC Silver Light Heavyweight belt, seemingly putting him in line for the winner of the likely September clash between World Super Middleweight Champion Andre Ward and World Light Heavyweight Champion Chad Dawson.
Dawson, the lineal champion at 175 lbs., also holds the WBC belt. Kessler has old business with Ward, suffering his second defeat to the 2004 U.S. Olympic Gold medalist in the “Super Six” opener.
A better course of business for Kessler is likely to emerge next Saturday as former rival Froch (28-2, 20 KO) faces IBF 168 lb. titlist Lucian Bute (30-0, 24 KO) in a highly anticipated clash. Having scaled well within reach of his typical division, Kessler would be an attractive next option for either man. Bute-Kessler was discussed last year and Froch could want revenge for his first loss in what was a Fight of the Year candidate.
Kessler was slated to face WBO Super Middleweight titlist Robert Steiglitz (42-3, 23 KO) twice in the last year only to withdraw with injuries. Kessler and Steiglitz share a promoter and could also emerge as an option.
Kessler entered the bout rated #1 by the WBC at Light Heavyweight and #2 by the WBO at Super Middleweight. He is a former two-time WBC and WBA titlist at Super Middleweight.
He won the WBA title with a knockout of Manny Siaca in 2004 and added the WBC strap in 2006 with a knockout of Markus Beyer only to suffer his first defeat to Calzaghe in a 2007 unification clash. He would go on to defeat Dimitri Sartison by stoppage in 2008 to win another WBA belt before losing the strap to Ward. He vacated the WBC belt he won from Froch in 2010 when forced to exit the “Super Six.”
No matter the division, Kessler is back in the title hunt after Saturday.
The card was promoted by Sauerland Events.
Cliff Rold is a Managing Editor at BoxingScene, and a member of the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]