By Geoff Poundes
On Saturday night local legend Mikkel Kessler, 45-2, 33 KO’s, takes on Irish veteran Brian Magee, 36-4-1, 25 KO’s, in Henning, Denmark. The two established super-middleweights will be contesting the WBA’s “world” championship.
Just so we’re clear let’s establish precisely which bauble is at stake: 33 year old Kessler won the WBA “world” title by retiring Manny Siaca in 7 rounds in 2004; he then became a “super” champion by knocking out Markus Beyer in 3 rounds in 2006. He lost that title to Joe Calzaghe in 2007, but then regained the “world” title upon Calzaghe’s retirement in 2008 when he stopped Danilo Haussler in 3. He then went on to lose that title to Andre Ward in the Super Six tourney when the American cut him to pieces over 11 rounds in 2011. So, he now fights Magee (the WBA’s “interim” titleholder) to regain that “world” title while Ward has been elevated to “super” champion. Clear?
Cut through all the ridiculous economics and at face value what you have is an eliminator to find a challenger for the best super-middle on the planet – the excellent Andre Ward. Ward has already proved himself Kessler’s superior by a distance, and no-one in their right mind would put the earnest but functional Magee in the same ring as S.O.G. Hence, boiled down to its nuts and bolts this is really a contest to set up a rematch between Kessler and Britain’s Carl Froch to establish who is the second best 168 pounder in the world. The belt is trifling and incidental.
The 37 year old Magee has mixed with the best, but it’s fair to say he’s fallen short at the highest level. This will be his second “world” title shot; he was well beaten by then IBF champion Lucian Bute last year when the Canadian broke him down with body shots and stopped him in 10 rounds. He was also stopped by Froch in 11 rounds when the pair contested Froch’s British title back in 2006.
Kessler will be on home turf, and is a Danish legend, so that it will be well nigh impossible for Magee to come away with a decision of any sort, so it’s conceivable that an inside distance win is the Irishman’s only hope of victory. Kessler has his faults, but he’s strong as an ox and generally immovable – Magee’s weaknesses around the body will not have been lost on the Dane or his team, so expect Kessler to dig them in around the bread basket early in the fight.
Kessler will win, but will have to take a few shots along the way as he can be slow and clumsy on occasion. Magee should fold somewhere between the eight and tenth rounds.
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