A Throwback to the Golden Age

Of boxing, that is. Last night, Joe Calzaghe fought Mikkel Kessler to unify the world’s super middleweight (168 pound) title. The fight reflected the resurgence of European boxing, as both Calzaghe, from Wales, and Kessler, from Denmark, entered the bout undefeated, Calzaghe at 43-0 and Kessler at 39-0. The fight took place before 50,000 roaring fans at a rugby stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
I don’t know what the betting odds were, but most observers seemed to think that Kessler’s youth and punching power would be too much for the 35-year-old Calzaghe. That wasn’t how it turned out. Calzaghe’s unorthodox style–that he is a southpaw is only the beginning–puzzled Kessler, and Calzaghe’s astonishing conditioning allowed him to throw twice as many punches as Kessler, while not even seeming winded after twelve rounds.
The fight lacked the drama of September’s Kelly Pavlik-Jermain Taylor bout, in which Pavlik was knocked down and almost out in the second round, but rebounded and knocked Taylor out in the seventh. But as a technical fight it was of great interest, and the action was non-stop. Neither fighter was ever in serious trouble, although the referee’s improvident warning to Calzaghe may have saved Kessler in about the eighth round. Calzaghe seemed to grow stronger, and Kessler more confused, as the fight went on, and in the end Calzaghe had an easy victory on points to remain undefeated. This photo shows early-round action:
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ESPN’s account of the fight is here. Notwithstanding predictions of the sport’s demise which have been common for several decades now, the fight game remains alive and well (outside, at least, of the heavyweight division), and is among the most international of all sports.
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