Mikkel Kessler vs. Andre Ward: Round By Round

Nick TylwalkCorrespondent INovember 22, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 21:  Mikkel Kessler of Denmark (R) is hit by Andre Ward during their WBA Super Middleweight Championship Bout at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 21, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

It's time for the final fight in the first stage of the Super Six World Boxing Classic. Oakland is the site for hometown boy Andre Ward to try to salvage a win for the Americans as he faces off against WBA super middleweight titleholder Mikkel Kessler.

Gus Johnson is at the Oracle Arena, joined by Al Bernstein and Antonio Tarver. They talk over the first two fights in the tournament, with Bernstein saying the key to the whole thing may be who figures out Arthur Abraham's style.

They also talk about whether or not Jermain Taylor will continue on, and they confirm what the boxer himself said on Twitter recently, that he is still planning on staying in the tournament.

Jim Gray talks with Andre Direll, who says he definitely thinks he won his fight with Carl Froch. He says his confidence is still high, and that he learned he can hang with the champions.

Dirrell compares Ward's situation today to the time they were Olympic teammates, when Ward came through as the last American standing and won a gold medal.

Showtime takes a minute to plug an upcoming MMA broadcast by talking to Scott Smith. He'll fight Cung Le in Strikeforce on Dec. 19.

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A video package gives us some background on Kessler and his upbringing in Denmark. We see Ward as well, who calls himself a "thinking man's fighter."

Tarver says Ward's key to victory will be his versatility. He likes Kessler's experience and his fundamentals.

Finally we go to Jimmy Lennon Jr. in the ring for the introductions. Oakland's own Ward comes out first, waving an American flag and getting a warm reception from the partisan crowd. Ward is 20-0 with 13 KOs, but this is his first world title fight.

Kessler hears some jeers as he walks to the ring. The Viking Warrior is 42-1 with 32 KOs, with his lone loss coming to Joe Calzaghe in November 2007. Tarver does not think the crowd will bother him at all.

The tale of the tape shows both men are virtually identical in all physical categories. The main difference is that Ward is five years younger, and Bernstein says it's a fair question to wonder if Kessler is an "old" 30 since he has logged plenty of rounds and had some injury problems.

Lennon does the introductions, and we are all set to go, scheduled for 12 rounds for Kessler's WBA belt.

Round One

Quick left hook by Ward. A jab hits Kessler, then two more. Now a left hook by Kessler connects. Ward gets inside and escapes without taking any damage. Straight left by Ward. Both men pawing with jabs, and Ward goes to the body.

Kessler is trying to cut off the ring. He tries to unload in the corner, but Ward ties up. One-two by Ward followed by some jabs.

Fans get a "USA" chant going as Kessler lands a jab. Thumping left glances off Kessler's guard. No big damage done, but that was a good round for Ward.

BoxingWatchers.com: 10-9 Ward

Round Two

Kessler looking to get more aggressive, but Ward catches him with a left hook coming in. Kessler has Ward off balance for a second but doesn't connect with any big shots. Ward bulls his way in and ties up. Both men trying jabs.

Kessler closes the distance and gets tied up several times. Ward misses with a wild left and they clinch again. Ward is doing a lot of dancing and lateral movement.

He ends a combo with a body shot. The ref warns Mikkel for holding, and Ward connects with a right before the bell.

BW: 10-9 Ward

Round Three

Ward starts off with a nice left but Kessler stands his ground and fires right back. Ward jukes and pops Kessler with a left in the corner.

The announcers think Ward's speed is bothering Kessler right now. Mikkel chases and tries to corner his foe. Right to the head and left to the body by Ward.

Kessler eats two shots right off a break. Ward smacks his man with a right and takes a jab in return.

BW: 10-9 Ward

Round Four

The one negative thing about Ward's fight thus far is that he's retreating a lot, and we saw what happened to Andre Dirrell. Ward is cautioned for two shots right on the belt line. Press row has it a shutout for Ward so far.

Ward just misses a big left. They fight in close and Ward gets the better of it. Kessler lands a big left hook but gets stunned a bit by a right hand. That was the best punch of the night thus far.

Kessler laughs but he gets popped by another right.

BW: 10-9 Ward

Round Five

Kessler has some blood coming from the right side of his face. He stumbles a bit as they exchange in the center of the ring. Straight right by Ward finds the mark. More grabbing, mostly by Ward.

Left hook by Ward, and jabs fly both ways. Kessler lands a left hook to the body before they clinch. Kessler scores with a few shots along the ropes which are answered by Ward.

Kessler jabs and takes two left hooks back. Ward has been switching stances a lot. Closer round but still hard to give to the Viking Warrior.

BW: 10-9 Ward

Round Six

Ward opens with a two-punch combo. Kessler is fighting with more urgency and firing a bunch more jabs. Kessler uses a left hook counter that scores. Mikkel lands a few more shots as Andre loses his discipline for a moment. Nice uppercut by Ward in close.

Right-left combo to the head as Ward rushes forward. Bernstein says Kessler needs to take advantage of the openings he's getting. Kessler eats a left but avoids the right. Ward's movement is confusing Kessler more often than not.

BW: 10-9 Ward

Round Seven

Ward goes to the body off his jab. Kessler is getting closer with his power shots. Tarver wonders if Kessler took Ward too lightly. Nice right by Kessler before they tie up.

He lands more jabs and Ward fires his own followed by a hook. Wild swing and a miss by Kessler. Ward uses a right to the body and they clinch. Repeated jabs hit Mikkel as he backs up.

BW: 10-9 Ward

Round Eight

Kessler apparently told his trainer he is having trouble seeing. Short right by Mikkel and a jab. Ward uses a right and a left hook to get some space. Right hand by Ward with no answer.

Kessler lands a jab but misses the right hand. Both men having some trouble finding the range. Ward lands a short uppercut before the ref steps in. Right-left combo knocks Kessler back, but he gathers himself and tries to return fire.

BW: 10-9 Ward

Round Nine

Kessler is cut over the left eye and below the right eye. His corner tells him he can only win by knockout now. Ward opens the round with two shots to the head. Body shot and a left hand by Andre.

Lots more clinching, but Kessler is doing most of it now. Kessler tries short lefts from very close range. Ward uses a right hand upstairs and a left hand downstairs.

Another huge swing and a miss by Mikkel. Now Kessler shows some determination by digging in for a flurry.

BW: 10-9 Ward

Round 10

Replays make it look as if the cut over Kessler's eye came from a clash of heads. Both men settle behind their jabs. Quick right hand by Ward, then a stiff left jab. Kessler complains about a clash of heads and the fans boo him.

Left-right combination by Ward opens up an exchange. Nice left hands both ways. Right hand and a left hook by Kessler on the inside.

Ward backs up Kessler though nothing huge landed. Kessler measures a right hand. Give Kessler credit for guts.

BW: 10-9 Kessler

Round 11

Bernstein calls Ward out for leading with his head in the last round. Two frames to go, and Kessler likely needs something dramatic to save his belt. Left-right combo by Ward as Kessler tries a straight right.

Clubbing shots by Kessler force Ward to stand and trade. Andre jabs his way in and ties up. A lead right gets Kessler's attention. The ref stops the fight, as the doctor says it's over due to a cut on Kessler's eyelid.

We have to go to the scorecards because the cut that stopped the fight was caused by a headbutt. The judges score it 97-93 and 98-92 twice, all for the winner... and new WBA super middleweight titleholder... Andre "S.O.G." Ward.

Gray congratulates Ward, who thanks God first. They talk a bit about the thought that Kessler was unable to make mid-fight adjustments and how that proved to be the case.

Ward does say Kessler is a tough fighter and he's not surprised Mikkel was a champ for so long.

Kessler complains to Gray about the holding and hitting and Ward using his head. The ref apparently said there were five unintentional butts, but the Viking Warrior says he thinks they were blatant.

Kessler says the cuts may be a problem going forward but he'll see if he can use more lateral movement in future fights.

Asked about Taylor, Ward mentions Jermain's tweets saying he will continue on. Andre says he'll be ready for the next fight regardless of who it is.

Ward scoffs at the idea that he was using his head on purpose and gives Kessler and Gray some props before checking out.

Nick Tylwalk is the editor and co-founder of BoxingWatchers.com , where this report originally appeared live.