Calzaghe adds Kessler's WBC, WBA crowns to WBO, Ring title
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.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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