Mikkel Kessler looked to stay sharp, and keep the rust at bay, in a scheduled twelve round scrap against Mehdi Bouadla on Saturday night in Copenhagen. Almost as an aside, the vacant WBO Euro 168 pound title was up for grabs.
The Kessler crew knew what they were getting in Boudla; he showed a willingness to mix it up, but entered with a lack of power (just ten KOs), which was a prerequisite for anyone wanting to secure this keep-sharp gig against the former WBC super middleweight titlist pound champion from Denmark. You'll recall Kessler had a weak muscle in his left eye, which forced him to exit the Super Six tournament, but responded to rest during a 14 month hiatus.
The scouting report on Bouadla was accurate; he gave Kessler some rounds, hung tough, and lost via TKO in round six, after hitting the deck four times.
Early on, the Frenchman Boudla by no means looked to be in over his head. He snapped his jab, kept a tight guard, and looked like a gamer, in it to win it. In the third, though, a right hand put Boudlah on the mat, with two minutes to go in the frame. He arose, with blood flowing from his nose. The damage came via an overhand right, to the chin, which the Frenchman didn't see coming, somewhat surprising since it started in Sweden. The ref took a point away as Boudla lost his mouthpiece, and the referee thought he did so on purpose, and took his time getting it replaced. The 32-year-old Dane was unloading on the loser, who was answering often enough and with enough vigor to finish the round. Indeed, he threw a meaningful left hook which tagged the Dane after the knockdown.
The loser came out aggressively to start the fourth, to his credit. He was going to go kicking and screaming if he was going to go. A right hand put the loser down, this time at the end of the round. He stood flat footed, right in front of Kessler, most of the time, but sometimes winged shots with some zest on them. Kid earned his check, earned his money by the fourth.
A left hook to the body hurt the 29-year-old Frenchman midway through the sixth. He then ate more shots, and went to the mat for the third time with a minute to go. More punishment came, and he took a knee, a beaten athlete. The ref it, felt for him, and halted the scrap, time of 2:25
Kessler, now 44-2 with 33 stops, is targeting Lucian Bute, or the winner of the Super Sox, which will likely be determined by late fall. He has now won two straight, after earning a UD against Carl Froch in April 2010. Bouadlah is 22-4.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV