Kessler, Green meet to rehab careers

Saturday from Copenhagen former super middleweight’s Mikkel Kessler and Allan Green look to get back on track after dropping key fights and spending extended time out of the ring. They are stepping up in weight to meet in a 12-round light heavyweight bout after participating in the Showtime Super Six tournament.

Kessler (44-2, 33 KOs) was once considered one of the two best super middleweights in the world, but has fallen on hard times over the last two years. The Copenhagen native, who will be fighting at home Saturday, is now five years removed from being in one of Europe’s biggest fights of the last 20 years. It was Nov. 3, 2007 when Kessler met Joe Calzaghe in Wales for supremacy of the 168-pound division in a unification bout of three major titles. Kessler and Calzaghe had cleaned out the division to set the stage. Kessler had wins over Eric Lucas, Markus Beyer, and Librado Andrade leading into the showdown.

Kessler had early success in the bout, but as the rounds moved on he simply could not keep up with Calzaghe’s activity and suffered his first loss as a professional. Kessler would rebound with three straight wins over lesser competition and picked up the WBA 168-pound strap along the way.

Then Showtime announced their groundbreaking tournament series to crown the 168-pound king. Kessler was two years removed from the Calzaghe fight and anxious to get back to the top. Along with Arthur Abraham, Kessler was the clear favorite in the tournament and was favored to dispatch of his first-round opponent, Andre Ward. The American, Ward, was considered a top talent but far too green to handle Kessler at this point of his career.

If Kessler was outlasted by Calzaghe, he was severely outclassed by the young American, anxious to show he belonged in the tournament. Ward dominated Kessler from the opening bell until the 11th round when the fight was stopped due to several cuts on Kessler from head butts. Ward took home a wide technical decision, Kessler’s WBA title, and an opening-round victory in the tournament.

Kessler would again re-group. In his second tournament bout he defeated Carl Froch for the WBC title in what may have been the most exciting and action-packed bout of the tournament. Unfortunately for Kessler, that would be his one and only tournament achievement.

Kessler withdrew from the tournament several months after the Froch fight due to the worsening of an eye injury. Kessler stated he was advised by doctors to take at least nine months off, which took away the opportunity to continue competing in the tournament.

Kessler has fought once since that time stopping Mehdi Bouadla in six rounds last June. Now Kessler meets Green as a light heavyweight. Ironically, Green would have been Kessler’s next opponent had he remained in the Super Six tournament.

Green (31-3, 21 KOs), for his part, had high expectations early in his career, but has not been able to get over the hump and fulfill the promise many thought he had. Green was turning heads when he won his first 23 pro fights and won 16 of them by knockout. Green was quickly becoming known as a feared puncher, showcased by his highlight reel KO of Jaidon Codrington in 2005, when he only needed eighteen seconds to stop his opponent on a Showbox event.

Green took on Edison Miranda in March 2007 in what was considered a matchup of young heavy hitters. Green was out-boxed and he dropped a unanimous decision to suffer his first loss. From that point to 2010 Green would win six straight, including a win over the tough Tarvis Simms. During that time, Green lobbied with no success for another opportunity at a big fight.

His opportunity came when Jermain Taylor dropped out of the Super Six tournament and Green got the call to fill in. Feeling slighted he was not one of the original invites into the tournament, Green was anxious to prove he belonged. He would square off with Andre Ward, who was fresh off beating Kessler.

It would be a night Green would rather forget. The emerging star, Ward, gave Green a lesson in boxing technique, dominating him to a shutout on all three cards. Ward beat Green inside, outside, and in every facet of the sport. It was clear early on that Green would have no answer and seemed to have little interest in doing anything other than surviving to the final bell.

Green would get one more opportunity to make his presence felt in the tournament, facing veteran Glen Johnson, another late addition to the tournament. With fighters falling out of the tournament left and right Green still had a shot at getting to the semi-finals with a win over Johnson. Again it was not meant to be as Johnson stopped Green in the eighth round of a close fight.

Since the tournament, Green has won two straight. A second round knockout of Craig Gandy and decision over Sebastien Demers. Green once again will have a chance against a big name Saturday against Kessler, but to win he will have to defeat the veteran on his home turf.

Both Green and Kessler have an opportunity to get on track Saturday night in a new division. Kessler will be looking to show he is still relevant and make one last run at a title. Green would badly like to prove he is more than a gate keeper that cannot get over the hump and defeat the elite of the sport.

With Bernard Hopkins on his way out and young talent including Chad Dawson, Tavoris Cloud, and Jean Pascal ready to take over the 175-pound class, the opportunity is available for a veteran to make his mark. Kessler and Green each want to be the one to do so starting Saturday night.