Scorecard: Calzaghe, Kessler on collision course

Dan Rafael recaps last week's notable boxing results from around the world.

Originally Published: October 16, 2006
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com


A roundup of last week's notable boxing results from around the world:

Saturday at Manchester, England
Super middleweight
Joe Calzaghe W12 Sakio Bika
Retains unified super middleweight titles.
Scores: 117-110 (twice), 116-111
Records: Calzaghe, 42-0; Bika, 20-2-2
Rafael's remark: No, it wasn't the prettiest win Calzaghe ever had and it certainly wasn't the sort of awesome performance he had in March, when he unified titles with a resounding destruction of Jeff Lacy. But Calzaghe, whose nine-year title reign is the longest active streak in boxing, still won comfortably to make his 19th consecutive defense despite once again hurting his chronically injured left hand. He was hard on himself afterward, too, for the sloppy performance, which came in front of more than 20,000. But we'll cut him some slack for having an inevitable emotional letdown coming off the Lacy fight. He was also putting a lot of pressure on himself to put on a great show in his HBO debut, but the awkward Bika proved he isn't the sort of opponent you can look great against.

Bika, who scored a four-round technical draw against then-titlist Markus Beyer in May, has a hard head that he likes to use as a weapon as evidenced by the butt he used to open a cut by Calzaghe's left eye in the fourth round and subsequent butts that led to a fifth-round point deduction.

Calzaghe, however, got through the defense with little difficulty, and now it is time for him to turn his attention to another big bout. He is calling out Bernard Hopkins, the light heavyweight king who embarrassed Antonio Tarver in June and then retired. But why is Calzaghe, of Wales, calling out a retired 41-year-old who fought in a different weight class? Yes, Calzaghe wants a big-name American to add to his résumé, but can't we just let Hopkins stay in retirement? There was also discussion of a future showdown with middleweight champ Jermain Taylor, No. 1 middleweight contender Winky Wright or light heavyweight titlist Clinton Woods in an all-British showdown. But come on -- the obvious fight, and one of the most significant in the sport, is for Calzaghe to finish his business at super middleweight by facing Danish star Mikkel Kessler, who unified the two other belts in the division with a crushing third-round knockout of Markus Beyer at about the same time Calzaghe was doing his thing against Bika.

A Calzaghe-Kessler clash is the only really meaningful fight in the division, and it would be a terrific fight that would bring undeniable clarity to the division. Forget Hopkins. The powers that be need to make Calzaghe-Kessler happen.

Cruiserweight
Enzo Maccarinelli TKO1 Mark Hobson
Retains a cruiserweight title.
Records: Maccarinelli, 25-1, 19 KOs; Hobson, 26-5-1
Rafael's remark: Maccarinelli, a rising star from Wales, needed just 71 seconds and a big right hand behind the ear to blow out Hobson in their rematch. It was a much more authoritative victory for Maccarinelli, who needed the 12-round distance to outpoint Hobson in a close fight in March. Hobson rebounded with two wins in a row after that loss only to run into Maccarinelli again on somewhat short notice. Maccarinelli had been scheduled to fight long-reigning titlist Johnny Nelson, but Nelson could not recover from knee and back injuries and pulled out of the fight. He also announced his retirement, meaning that Maccarinelli, as interim titlist, inherited Nelson's championship and made a successful first defense.

Saturday at Copenhagen
Super middleweight
Mikkel Kessler KO3 Markus Beyer
Unifies super middleweight titles.
Records: Kessler, 38-0, 29 KOs; Beyer, 34-3-1
Rafael's remark: Although Joe Calzaghe is generally recognized as the "real" super middleweight champion, Kessler is hot on his heels after a spectacular knockout of Beyer, a 35-year-old from Germany in his third reign with a version of the title.

Kessler, fighting in front of an adoring hometown crowd of about 10,000, made his third successful defense and unified two of the 168-pound titles in the process with a clean knockout of Beyer. After slow going in the first two rounds, Kessler, 27, connected with a jab followed by a clean right hand to the chin that sent Beyer to the seat of his pants. Beyer never knew what hit him and was counted out.

Let's give props to HBO for at least securing rights to air highlights of the bout on the "Boxing After Dark" telecast that featured Calzaghe defending his unified belts. It was a terrific look at the elite of the super middleweight landscape in the context of one broadcast and hopefully sets up a Calzaghe-Beyer showdown.

That's the obvious fight for Kessler, despite the fact that he owes Librado Andrade a mandatory fight. Kessler would rather face Calzaghe, but can it be made? It will depend on the money, obviously. It will also depend largely on Calzaghe, who has designs on a big-name American opponent such as Bernard Hopkins instead of the extremely dangerous Kessler. Hopefully, Calzaghe-Kessler will happen; it would be a dynamite match between two aggressive punchers. It's also the right fight for boxing.

Saturday at Providence, R.I.
Super middleweight
Peter Manfredo Jr. TKO3 Joe Spina
Records: Manfredo, 26-3, 12 KOs; Spina, 19-1-1
Rafael's remark: Manfredo gained his fame by finishing as the runner-up to "The Contender" Season One winner Sergio Mora, and Spina has been jealous of his Providence crosstown rival since. He's been calling Manfredo out for ages, and they finally met in a bitter backyard brawl filled with hateful smack talk. In the end, it was Manfredo who won hometown bragging rights with a sensational destruction of Spina.

Manfredo, who kept alive a possible fight with Roy Jones Jr. in early 2007, pummeled Spina from the outset of their ESPN2 main event. Manfredo dominated the first round, hurt Spina badly in the second and knocked him silly in the third. After Manfredo knocked him down in the third round, Spina's corner threw in the towel just as the referee was about to stop the fight. And even after it was over, the bad blood continued to flow as Manfredo nearly jumped on a dazed Spina -- who later said he broke his hand in the second round -- only to be held back by the referee. There was no sportsmanship or the typical hug for the fallen opponent in this one.

Manfredo has clearly improved since his days on "The Contender," but if the Jones fight happens, don't expect it to be as easy as his win against the overmatched Spina.

Super middleweight
Allan Green TKO8 Jerson Ravelo
Records: Green, 23-0, 16 KOs; Ravelo, 17-2
Rafael's remark: Green closed out a busy 2006 with his fifth consecutive victory and fourth knockout. This one was an impressive win and an eye-catching knockout against a quality opponent.

Ravelo, a 2000 Dominican Olympian, is a dangerous foe with good power and skills. But Green was well-prepared. He was winning a chess match through seven rounds, but in the eighth, Green's power emerged. He decked Ravelo twice before the referee wisely stopped the bout, giving Green the most impressive and meaningful victory of his blossoming career. Green seems to have put his near-knockout loss to Donnie McCrary in April behind him. Green is ready for a championship fight right now, and he is ready for the bright lights of HBO or Showtime. A great win for a top contender.

Friday at Hollywood, Fla.
Junior welterweight
Randall Bailey TKO8 Shawn Gallegos
Records: Bailey, 34-5, 31 KOs; Gallegos, 16-3
Rafael's remark: Bailey was supposed to face former lightweight champ Cesar Bazan, who pulled out and was replaced by unheralded Gallegos. So it should come as little surprise that Bailey, a former titleholder and one of the best pure punchers in the sport, hammered away at Gallegos with his heavy right hand until referee Tommy Kimmons finally stopped it at 1:55 of the eighth.

Gallegos made the incredibly poor decision to try to brawl with Bailey, which was obviously a bad idea. Bailey won his sixth fight in a row against his sixth overmatched foe since suffering a sixth-round TKO loss to titlist Miguel Cotto in December 2004. Because of his power, Bailey remains a dangerous opponent for anyone.

Friday at Nogales, Ariz.
Junior lightweight
Steven Luevano W12 Baudel Cardenas
Scores: 119-108 (twice), 118-109
Records: Luevano, 32-1; Cardenas, 14-7-1
Rafael's remark: Typical Luevano fight, which means it wasn't too exciting, but he dominated. Luevano, who came in 1½ pounds over the 126-pound limit, won his third straight since dropping a decision in a surprising loss to Martin Honorio in November. Luevano dropped Cardenas in the second round and toyed with him the rest of the way. These Telefutura main events are getting old. Can we put Luevano in a serious fight already? He's had 33 fights. What are we waiting for?

Thursday at St. Petersburg, Russia
Super middleweight
David Gogiya W12 Mger Mkrtchian
Wins European super middleweight title
Scores: 117-112, 115-113 Gogiya, 116-114 Mkrtchian
Records: Gogiya, 16-1; Mkrtchian, 23-3
Rafael's remark: Unheralded Gogiya went to Mkrtchian's hometown and ended his five-fight winning streak to claim the European crown on a split decision. Mkrtchian hadn't lost since a seventh-round TKO defeat at the hands of world champion Joe Calzaghe in February 2004. Gogiya, not known as much of a puncher, instead had to rely on his speed advantage to beat Mkrtchian to the punch.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.

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