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Calzaghe adds Kessler's WBC, WBA crowns to WBO, Ring title

11/4/2007 - Boxing

CARDIFF, Wales -- Undefeated Joe Calzaghe added Mikkel
Kessler's WBA and WBC super middleweight titles to his own WBO and Ring
crowns early Sunday, unanimously outpointing the previously
undefeated Dane.

The 35-year-old Welshman improved to 44-0, closing with three
standout rounds at the Millennium Stadium to unify the three titles
in front of an announced 50,150.

"To win the four major title belts, to be the unbeaten champion
and 10 years a champion it's just amazing and I'm so proud," said
Calzaghe, who said it could well be his final fight at 168 pounds
before he finishes his career as a light-heavyweight.

"An extra seven pounds at this stage in my career -- 10 years a
champion, four major belts -- what else is there to do? Dig all
those guys up -- Roy Jones, Bernard Hopkins, come on let's do it.

"I think I've shown them in the States what I'm all about. I'm
looking at fighting for another 12 months and I want to fight the
big fights and hopefully this will set this up for the big fight
and Hopkins will come out of hiding."

After both fighters traded big shots and combinations in all 12
rounds, the three judges gave the decision to Calzaghe. Raul Caiz
scored it 117-111, fellow American John Stewart had it 116-112 and
Massimo Barrovecchio of Italy scored it 116-112.

Kessler dropped to 39-1 and said he wasn't sure of his next move
after losing for the first time.

"I haven't thought about it. He just crushed my dreams," the
Dane said.

"I hit him with some clean shuts but I should have punched more
combinations, not trying to punch hard with the right hand. When I
put him under pressure I thought I would be OK. But he has such a
good chin. I have got to give him that."

With combined records of 82 victories, something had to give and
both fighters refused to let each other take control amid deafening
roars from the fans at the Millennium Stadium, a rugby ground which
had the roof closed.

The left-handed Calzaghe connected with his trademark overhand
left in the second round, but Kessler -- seven years younger and
with a punishing jab -- got through with a right uppercut that
pushed the Welshman back onto the ropes.

Kessler's fans chanting his name between rounds but Calzaghe's
followers silenced them as he came back in the third.

As if stung by that right hand, Calzaghe charged at Kessler at
the start of the third, spinning him down with a combination that
ended with the Dane on the floor. Referee Mike Ortega ruled a slip,
but it gave Calzaghe confidence. He varied his punches to the head
and body and even taunted the Dane with a short dance of
celebration as he got through with his left hands. That prompted
his fans to sing to the Danish followers "You're not singing any
more."

The two fighters traded fast combinations, which ended with
Kessler getting home with a right uppercut that shook Calzaghe and
he landed another later in the round to quiet the local man's
followers.

Kessler got through with some more left jabs and rocked Calzaghe
with two right hands in the seventh. But the Welshman, showing that
his 35 years were not catching up with him, came back with some
strong combinations that pushed Kessler around the ring.

The two fighters continued to trade punches but it was the
younger Kessler who looked more tired at the end of each of the
last three rounds and Calzaghe threw far more punches.

On the undercard, Enzo Maccarinelli stopped New Zealand-based
challenger Mohammed Azzaoui less than a minute into the fourth
round to retain the WBO cruiserweight title. The Welshman improved
to 28-1, while Azzaoui dropped to 22-1-2.