By Alexey Sukachev & Per Ake Persson
Copenhagen, Denmark - Former super middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler (44-2, 33KOs) made his ring return in style by stopping French boxer Mehdi Bouadla (22-4, 10KOs) in six rounds. Bouadla went down in the sixth from a build up of pure punishment. It was Kessler's first bout since last April's win over Carl Froch and the eye injury which forced his withdrawal from the Super Six Tournament.
Kessler, 32, brought the fight to unheralded but durable Frenchman from the very beginning. WBO #6 Bouadla, 29, agreed to exchange punches with a bigger opponent, who has longer arms, but his speed and his technique weren't on par with Kessler's tools. It didn't mean much in the opening stanza, which was rather tactical but it did begin to mean something as the bout progressed. The shining Dane, who showed little to none traces of rustiness, delivered well-measured left and right hooks to the head of Bouadla in the second and then, when the Frenchman put his hands up to protect his upper deck, landed vicious body shots to trouble Boudla.
Round three turned to be the beginning of Bouadla's end. Kessler landed several big punches with a specific accent on his right hand and had Mehdi down in the midst of the round. The Frenchman stood up in pain and immediatelt spit out his mouthpiece. Referee Manuel Maritxalar allegedly deducted a point for that without any prior warning, making it a 10-7 round for Kessler. However, Bouadla survived the round. He was also hit hard in the fourth with an increasing amount of punishment. Mehdi tried to retaliate but Kessler was constantly circling around his shorter opponent, and Bouadla was forced to jump and lean forward with his punches to no effect. At the end of the round, Kessler connected with a freaky right hand, made one step back and saw how his opponent fell down in pain.
Bouadla, down twice, employed everything which had left of his energy and gave the local hero some worrying moments in the fifth round. He was punching nicely into Kessler's face and showed remarkable toughness in resisting the Dane's onslaught. However, the end of the round was once again in Mikkel's favour. Round six proved to be the end of the road for a courageous Frenchman. He was hit at will and finally went down after a smashing combo by Kessler. With his nose bleeding badly, Mehdi Bouadla chose to continue fighting but was soon down again, and referee stopped what had evolved into a one-sided beating at 2:25 of the sixth stanza.
Scores at the time of stoppage were 50-42 on all judges' scorecards. Kessler reportedly grabbed a vacant WBO European title in this fight.
Danish middleweight sensation Patrick Nielsen moved up to 10-0, 6 KOs, after the convincing third-round TKO over Irish "Sugar" Joe Rea (7-4-1, 4 KOs). Nielsen floored his opponent with a leaning left hand in the second round, and twice more with liver punches in the third. Rea's corner threw in a towel soon after that but referee Jan Christensen let the fight go anyway until Rea took a knee after several more combinations by the fast-punching Dane. Time of stoppage was 2:30.
Local light welterweight hope Kasper Bruun (11-0, 3 KOs) barely passed his six-round test against experienced British journeyman Jay Morris (14-19-2, 4 KOs). Both fighters engaged into a rough collision and presumably fading Morris, 33, gave fits to his much younger foe, 24. The Brit was slightly better in the first two stanzas but Bruun regrouped and edged his opponent in the next couple of rounds. Both battlers gave their all in the closing rounds, and finally BoxingScene had it a draw 57-57. However, all three local judges chose Bruun as a winner with a unanimous decision: 58-56 (twice) and 59-56. Morris should have been deducted some points for constant hitting Bruun behind the back of the head.
Local favorite Kim Poulsen (18-1, 5 KOs) scored a rare stoppage in his career, dismissing 39-year old Moroccan junior welterweight Tarik Sahibeddine (12-9, 2 KOs) in three rounds. Superior velocity, combined with a wiser approach, allowed 24-year old Dane to control the fight with his slower, rustier opponent. Poulsen gradually increased the pressure and finally floored Sahibeddine in round three with a brilliant left-right combination to the head. The Moroccan beat the count but was too dazed for referee Soren Saugmann to let this fight go any longer. Time of stoppage was 2:05 of the third round.
22-year old heavyweight hope Edmund Gerber (16-0, 10 KOs) passed another test after he easily defeated tough American opponent Zack Page (21-36-2, 7 KOs) over eight tactical rounds. Upset specialist Page, 38, was unusually passive and struggled to find any weak spots in Gerber's defense. The German enforcer applied a wise pressure not getting crazy against his elusive foe and peppering him with hard left jabs.
In round two, Gerber started to use his hard right hand one punch after another. Page was soon down after a crushing combo by the German, but referee Freddy Rafn refused to call it a knockdown. He was forced to issue a count several mometns later when the American was floored (this time in clear fashion) by a hard straight right hand of Gerber. Rounds three to seven were rather measured. Gerber didn't fully use his potential, Page was seemingly content with the present state of events and hardly did anything of note. In round eight, Gerber landed much more solid punches and decked Page again but Zack was able to go the full distance.
All three judges had it the same: 80-70 - for Edmund Gerber (same with the BoxingScene). Zack Page lost his sixth straight bout to previously undefeated fighters.
German light heavyweight hope Dustin Dirks (21-0, 15 KOs) continued his pugilistic education with a dominant stoppage of overmatched Spanish veteran Juan Nelongo (21-13-1, 9 KOs). 41-year old journeyman fought on even terms with Dirks in the opening stanza. However, as the bout went on, it became clear that the power of hard-hitting Dirks, 22, was simply too much for his barely upright opponent. Nelongo tasted some leather in the second, and the third round turned into a one-sided beating of the Spaniard.
In the midst of the stanza, Nelongo started to wobble visibly after a series of uppercuts and right hands by Dirks but referee Hans Larsen somehow allowed the contest to go on. The dark-skinned guest of Copenhagen managed to survive the stanza but was rocked badly again in the fourth round with another couple of uppercuts, prompting the referee to put a halt at 1:15 of the fourth round. Nelongo lost his fifth straight contest.