The man is model-handsome, and his boxing skills aren't too shabby, either. Yes, super middleweight Mikkel Kessler passed the audition, as he downed unbeaten Librado Andrade in a bid to widen his profile and marketability via a unanimous decision Saturday in Copenhagen, Denmark.
If you'd like one stat to boil down the story of the fight, here it is: 10% (95 of 923). That's the percentage of punches Andrade, a native of Mexico, landed. Kessler, a 28-year-old Dane, is Harold Lederman's wet dream in the ring generalship department. He moves, clockwise, then counterclockwise, and that perpetual movement gave the less coordinated Andrade fits. By the fifth round, Max Kellerman of HBO's broadcast team, compared the amount of punishment that Andrade was taking to the beating that Tex Cobb absorbed in his 1982 fight with Larry Holmes. That one-sided slugfest caused Howard Cosell, who worked the fight for the network, to swear off the fight game. This one wasn't that one sided, as Andrade still had a glimmer of a chance–OK, a very faint glimmer–til the finishing bell. Wayne McCullough worked the 28-year-old Andrade's corner, and the loser showed much of the same heart that the Pocket Rocket exhibited. There were no knockdowns in the bout. Kessler (39-0, 29 KOs) didn't merely coast down the stretch as he could have; he was still winging combos in the twelfth round. With the win, Kessler retains his WBA and WBC belts. By the third round, it was apparent that Andrade's balance issues would prove to be a costly deficiency. The righthander, now 24-1, frequently found himself in southpaw stance after tossing an errant bomb. Postbout, he proved as gracious as he was gritty. “I'm a time collector,” he said to Kellerman. “This a wonderful time to collect.” This line, priceless. Another reason to love boxing… Kessler told Kellerman he wants Calzaghe (who has a bout scheduled for April 7 against Peter Manfredo), in a big way. “I dare you Calzaghe,” he said. “That's what I told him once before, and I hope he's going to fight me soon. If he dares, of course.” It was the sort of performance that might do more to hurt Kessler than you might think on the surface. He's an ultra-solid technician, with a superlative level of fitness. If you're Joe Calzaghe, do you want to risk your undefeated record against a man this skilled, who doesn't have the drawing power (read: earning power) to make it worthwhile for the Prince of Wales?
SPEEDBAG It's now a week later. Has Jay Nady decided on which doctor is going to do his laser eye correction? –While on the topic of the Barrera/Marquez meeting, I'm still curious…the plus sized woman in the front row…what was in her orange manila folder? She was clutching it the whole fight, and with my ADD, I kept fixating on it. —Lampley's on a roll regarding tweaks to the sport. He fairly spat on the concept of open scoring last month during the Cotto/Urkel fight, and Lamps was firmly in the “pro” corner on the issue of instant replay during last week's PPV. –Did you catch the Compubox numbers after nine rounds of the Mexican box-off? Both fighters had thrown 529 punches, and Barrera had landed one more (204 to 203). That's a tight fight. —Raise your hand if you thought Bernard Hopkins would still be part of Golden Boy Promotions at this point. Hopkins, a consummate go-it-alone sort, too wise and skeptical to hand over the reins to anyone else, has been with Oscar's outfit since November 2004.