The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

Ward vs. Kessler

I’m about done with the tournament aspects of this tournament to be honest, but the actual fights which it’s creating continue to be fantastic: Kessler vs. Ward is the sort of fight which ordinarily would take years longer to be built up to between the desire of fighters like Kessler to hide out in their home countries as national champions, squashing jobbers for good money, and the desire of the managers of prospects like Ward to avoid a serious challenge for as long as financially possible. For the sake of comparison, look at Andre Berto: a fine fighter likely to be competitive with almost anyone and regarded as reasonably similar in stature to Ward as a prospect, but who in 5 more fights and an equal amount of time as a professional has never faced a fighter of the stature of Kessler. Ward is taking a big risk here, and he deserves to be applauded for it.

But will he win? I confess, I have no idea. Both men in this face new challenges. Ward is facing a level of talent and ability far above his previous opponents, and in particular will have to deal with Kessler’s very good power and brutally effective jab, tools which have made him many people’s favorite for this whole tourney. Kessler, by contrast, is facing a serious world-class talent for the first time in two years, and last time he did so he was ground down against Joe Calzaghe on the way to his first ever career loss. That loss exposed Kessler’s issues with world-class handspeed and activity level, and Ward certainly excels in at least one of those areas. There’s also the question of where Kessler’s head is at, having all but taken two years off squashing no-hopers and going through promotional wranglings. On paper Kessler should win this, especially since at 30 he’s still essentially in the prime of his career and not the kind of past-it veteran who often gets picked off and overwhelmed by an opponent with lesser credentials but excellent athleticism. All the same, if Ward can move effectively and keep Kessler’s jab to range-finding and pawing uses, he can potentially use his speed to come in with hooks and leads as quick counters and keep Kessler off-balance. On the other hand, he could also mis-time that, walk into a big right, and have his questionable chin cracked. That’s what makes it such a great fight. If I have to pick I’ll take Ward in a minor upset on the theory that speed kills especially against a guy who’s gotten comfortable obliterating hobos of late, but if you’re putting money on this one you’re crazy-go-nuts.

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November 20, 2009 - Posted by | Boxing

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