Ringside: Andre Ward’s brings Championship to Oakland
1967, that was the last time there was a championship fight in Oakland.
Andre Wards convincing 11-round technical decision over Mikkel Kessler proved that championship boxing is back in the Eas won’t be the last .
It was fitting that Ward earned his win at the Oracle arena because many of boxing’s scribes and oracles had picked Mikkel Kessler to defeat his American challenger
Ward dominated Kessler from the opening bell. Ward’s gave a matador like performance: Mikkel Kessler was the aggressor in many rounds but Ward in the words of former Light Heavyweight Champion Antonio Tarver "chopped him up"
He landed frequently with his jab and also impressed with straight rights to the body. Ward showed that despite being the younger fighter with an untested chin he was willing to take risks and in this case they paid off with his fight championship: the WBA 168 pound title.
Ward’s stiff jab began working from round one. It soon opened cuts on Kessler’s eye
and from round 3 on, Kessler’s head snapped back in pain every time Ward landed the jab.
The game plan for Kessler had been to breakdown Ward over several rounds. Other than Rounds 2 and 5 when Kessler had some good moments it was Andre Ward who kept broke down Mikkel Kessler.
In round 6 Kessler began to complain in the corner about his eyes and told his corner men he could not see. Still Kessler pressed on, moving forward and trying to be the aggressor. Kessler was the stronger man but, neither fighter was seriously hurt in this fight.
Both fighters showed a commitment to fighting on the inside and going to the body. As a result a headbutt opened a cut over Kessler’s left eye. It was the reopening of this cut which led the ringside physician to stop the fight in the 11th round.
The fight was stopped due to cuts caused by unintentional head butts. The scores went predictably to Ward who was given the fight on scores of 97-93, 98-92, 98-92 and became the new WBA Champion.
After the fight Ward was pressed to compare winning a world championship belt in his home town to going overseas and winning the Gold Medal for the United States in 2004 Athens Olympics.
Ward saw similarities between the two situations. With the United State’s other fighters in the Super Six tournament Andre Dirrel and Jermaine Taylor taking losses in the early going he again felt the pressure to perform for the United States, the same way he felt in 2004 during a wave of Anti-Americanism. “I was representing out there with red, white, and blue, I love America…I feel when I fight in this tournament I have America on my shoulders.” Ward explained.
“Since I was 9 years I have dreamed of winning the gold medal and a world championship. Tonight I completed these goals” Said the new champion.
Ward dedicated his win to his father and also declared that he planned to retire at the age of 30.
Ward’s win also exposed Kessler in a similar way to Calzaghe’s victory over The Great Dane. Kessler is a great athlete and a good fighter. Unfortunately, he has problems making tactical adjustments. His pressing style has been likened to a robot. Men with good lateral footwork and sharp defensive reflexes can beat him. Unlike the Vikings of old, he is no road warrior. Having lost to both Ward and Calzaghe far from his home turf in Denmark.
With the win Ward must be considered the favorite to win the Super Six tournament. Next up for Ward is a match with Jermaine Taylor which will probably also be held in Oakland. While Mikkel Kessler may have just lost his title his next fight will be against Carl Froch the holder of WBC title. This fight is likely to be in either in England or Denmark.