The two Europeans boxers – victorious over their American opponents in the first round of the Super Six World Boxing Classic – are predicting Mikkel “Viking Warrior” Kessler will beat Andre “S.O.G.” Ward in the final Group Stage 1 matchup this Saturday, Nov. 21, at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. live on SHOWTIME® (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast). One of the two Americans – Andre Dirrell – likes Ward while Jermain Taylor calls Saturday’s showdown a “toss-up.”
“I’m going with Ward,” said Dirrell after his Group Stage 1 defeat to Carl Froch in October. Dirrell, along with Arthur Abraham, are expected to be at ringside to catch the action. “Ward has the ability to win,” Dirrell continued. “This is his biggest fight so he’ll have to stick to his game plan but I’m going with him.”
The matchup between World Boxing Association (WBA) super middleweight champion Kessler and Ward, the hometown, undefeated hero, is a scheduled for 12 rounds and will be for Kessler’s WBA 168-pound title.
“Mikkel Kessler will win because of his strength and ring experience,” said Froch. “I’m looking forward to it because obviously it’s a fight that has major implications for me in the Super Six tournament. Andre Ward has that terrific amateur pedigree, winning the Gold medal at the Athens Olympics. He’s had some good wins in the pros but we will only find out how good he really is when he steps in there with Kessler.”
Taylor, who was knocked out by Abraham in the 12th round on Oct. 17, sees it going either way: “Andre Ward and Mikkel Kessler will be a very competitive fight and both want to make a statement in the Super Six tournament,’’ Taylor said. “I think the key to the fight depends on who will dictate and set the pace in the early rounds. Both fighters have a lot of skills and will be well prepared to do battle. It’s a very close fight to make a prediction on. I would call the fight a toss-up.”
Added Abraham: “Because I have not ever seen an Andre Ward fight live or on tape, I cannot say much. But Kessler is the favorite in this fight nevertheless. I have seen Kessler fight many times and he is very clever and very strong. I have to give the advantage to Kessler because of his strength, experience and cleverness.
“Andre Ward is not to be underestimated. He is very good. He is technically very sound and can also punch hard as he has shown in previous fights. But I hope that my new stablemate, Mikkel Kessler, wins. He is very versatile, very experienced and he has a great vision/anticipation in the ring. And most importantly, the “Viking Warrior” is a true fighter. If you ask me for a prediction, I would go with a points victory for Mikkel. The boxing fans can certainly be thrilled about this fight because it puts together two of the best technicians in the division.”
Froch, who won a decision over Dirrell, also on Oct. 17, said, “Ward will have the benefit of home advantage, which I’m sure will play its part but Kessler is very experienced and has won on the road before so I’m sure he won’t see it as an issue. I’m hoping for my own selfish reasons that Kessler wins because then he’ll still have the WBA belt. I’m fighting him next so if he beats Ward then it means that our fight becomes a massive WBC and WBA unification clash and I can get my hands on his belt.”
Abraham said he now gets recognized just walking the streets after beating Taylor. “The victory over Jermain Taylor was great. If you beat big names, you get a lot of recognition, and I notice that when walking through the streets. Not just boxing and sports fans follow the Super Six tournament but also a lot of normal people who would not necessarily watch boxing on TV. They are all interested in the Super Six because it is the best fighting the best.”