Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward were just spectators and fans on Saturday night as their fellow Super Six World Boxing Classic competitors battled in the first stage of the groundbreaking tournament, but the two fighters have plenty of thoughts about the exciting fights.
Kessler is eager to begin the tournament and enjoyed what he saw ringside at the o2 World Arena in Berlin, Germany, but Ward, who watched the fights from his training camp in Oakland, Calif., admits that he now feels a little added pressure to represent America after his fellow countrymen Taylor and Dirrell lost in Group Stage 1.
“I think that both fights Saturday night in Berlin and Nottingham showed the great potential of the Super Six,” Kessler said. “Both Abraham-Taylor and Froch-Dirrell left no doubt why these guys are a part of the Super Six tournament – they are all great fighters. I am really looking forward to enter the tournament now!
“I enjoyed myself at the o2 World Arena with a brilliant Super Six setup, a great fight and, of course, tactical notes for my future fights against Taylor and Abraham later on in the tournament. For now though, my focus is on the fight against Ward Nov. 21. I have a great feeling about that fight and the tournament in general.”
With Taylor losing by 12th round knockout and Dirrell winding up on the losing end of a split decision, Ward is the sole unbeaten American in the tournament.
“It’s unfortunate what happened to Jermain,’’ Ward said. “I thought he was fighting well through the first half of the fight. Abraham came on late and started to close the show. I think the punch he got hit with was a technical mistake. I think he thought Abraham was coming with a looping right hand, the kind of right hand that Abraham was throwing all night. This time he brought it down the middle and Jermain squeezed his gloves together and closed his eyes so he didn’t see it. Nevertheless, it was a great win for Abraham to start off the tournament and the Super Six and I congratulate him. I’m happy that Jermain is up and doing well and happy he’s doing better.
“I felt like Dirrell definitely won the fight and I felt like he deserved the nod. This fight is definitely going to take Dirrell to another level because he knows he can compete at the highest level. I definitely feel like I’m back in Greece all over again and even though the Americans fought well, unfortunately we were unable to get a victory in the first two fights. I’m definitely inspired to bring America their first victory in the Super Six tournament.’’
Kessler feels the added pressure now that his fellow Europeans have earned points in Group Stage 1.
“Of course I feel the pressure, now that Abraham and Froch have won their fights – but with a 43-fight record – I know all about pressure – you learn to live with it,” Kessler said. “The Ward fight is not different from any other fight at this level. I have my routines, and I know exactly how to deal with pressure. But, of course, a 3-0 European lead would make a statement on the global boxing scene.”