by Cliff Rold
Former Super Middleweight titlist Mikkel Kessler has faced adversity before. He’s suffered defeat. However, one thing no one is accustomed to seeing is the Dane on the floor.
Getting dropped is part of boxing and how one reacts tells a lot about them. Kessler got off the floor in the first round Saturday against Allan Green and was clearly hurt. Before the bell sounded to end the opening stanza, it was Kessler doing the hurting with a big left hook.
He kept landing the left until the best of the bunch got him back on track to title contention.
Let’s go to the report card.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Kessler B; Green B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Kessler B+; Green B+/Post: A; A
Pre-Fight: Defense – Kessler B; Green C+/Post: B; C-
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Kessler A; Green C/Post: Same
In the wake of such a mammoth knockout, and we can be sure Kessler-Green will be remembered when year-end honors start being tossed around, the context of the conclusion can be drowned.
Let’s remember the context.
Kessler got rid of an opponent he was supposed to, and he got dropped before he did it.
On the latter point, we must also remember to contextualize. There are those who will see Green dropping Kessler as a sign of Kessler’s slipping from peak. At 33, he probably isn’t as good physically as he was five years ago, but suffering a knockdown can get wildly overrated. Green can be an attractive opponent because of his proven pop. If he lands a bomb, anyone can go.
Green can’t always land it, and hasn’t shown against most of his better competition the ability to finish when he does. On Saturday he connected and Kessler suffered the consequences. It happens. History says a single hard knockdown in a fistfight, particularly when suffered by someone who otherwise stays afoot, has little bearing on the future prognostication.
Larry Holmes got dropped by Renaldo Snipes and it didn’t help Gerry Cooney any.
Kessler handled the moment well and responded with the championship mettle he’s forged near the top of the Super Middleweight division since 2004.
On the first point, the whole getting rid of someone he was supposed to bit, Kessler can only get so much credit for the win. He beat Green quicker than Andre Ward and Glen Johnson, but it was still Allan Green. For all Green’s physical tools, he’s always had a questionable chin and grit in the ring.
The fight didn’t end in the fourth. It ended in the first.
When Kessler hurt Green after getting dropped, Green’s face wore an expression of give. He didn’t quit, and fought hard to stay off the deck when hurt in rounds two and three, but he didn’t fight like a man who had something more to challenge Kessler with. Green fought like he was trying to avoid another bad loss.
Green was a highlight reel baby step in the right direction for a Kessler who has shown technical improvement under the guidance of Jimmy Montoya. Kessler’s bread and butter has been the jab-right hand but Montoya has him using the left more than he used to and mixing it a sharp uppercut in close. It was a punch he could have used when getting thrashed by Andre Ward and one he’s fine-tuning in a late stage of his career.
The real test will come when Kessler again sees a real test. It hasn’t happened since he gutted out a violent win over Carl Froch in 2010. The wait probably won’t be long.
Report Card Picks 2012: 25-5
Light Heavyweight: Rugged former titlist Adrian Diaconu, previously #6, has retired and is wished good tidings. Everyone below him bumps up a lot and Tony Bellew, who gave Nathan Cleverly hell last year, enters the ratings.
Super Middleweight: While the Kessler win came officially at Light Heavyweight, the winner came in so close to his usual limit there is no reason to remove him from these ranks. And, given he didn’t beat a rated Light Heavyweight in Green, Kessler does not enter the top ten there. With Lucian Bute-Carl Froch fighting next week, and promotional stablemates Robert Stieglitz and Arthur Abraham fighting in August, Kessler could have some interesting options open up in the near future.
Jr. Bantamweight: Juan Carlos Sanchez built a lead and kept it against veteran former titlist Juan Alberto Rosas, meriting a bump into the middle of the pack at 115 lbs. Rosas remains just on the fringe of the top ten for now.
The full ratings update is a click away.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of 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]