HBO to Air Calzaghe-Kessler Live
LONDON – Promoter Frank Warren announced today that the biggest non-heavyweight world title unification fight since the Sugar Ray Leonard-Tommy Hearns welterweight rumble of 1981, pitting undefeated super middleweight champions Joe Calzaghe (43-0, 32 KOs), from Newbridge, Wales, and Mikkel Kessler (39-0, 29 KOs), from Copenhagen, Denmark, would be moved to later in the evening to accommodate U.S. boxing fans. Promoted by Frank Warren, in association with International Entertainment, the Calzaghe-Kessler world title unification fight will now be broadcast live in primetime in the U.S. at 9:00 p.m. ET and 6:00 p.m. PT on HBO World Championship Boxing. The fight will take place Saturday, November 3, at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales (1 a.m. local time), which will be scaled for an indoor-record of 60,000-plus spectators. Over 30,000 seats have already been sold.
“We have seen the tremendous response this fight is generating with the fans and the sports press and we put our heads together with our UK broadcaster, Setenta, and came up with a plan to maximize the exposure,” said Warren. “We discovered that the weekend of the fight is the one time when there is only a four hour time difference between ET and GMT in the UK making it possible to start the show at a reasonable time for the UK and prime time in the States. When we approached HBO about the possibility of going live, they were ecstatic when we found a way to do this and immediately cleared their schedule to make it possible. This was a case of all the stars lining up just right.”
“With a fight of this caliber now live in prime time in the U.S., the viewing audience will be substantially higher, said Kery Davis, senior vice president of programming, HBO Sports. This is the kind of showcase event that we hope to attract more than just the hardcore boxing fan. It’s a big sporting event, period.”
Calzaghe, boxing’s current longest-reigning world champion, will make his landmark 21st consecutive title defense—tops among active world champions—which would tie him with super middleweight champion Sven Ottke at fourth place on boxing’s all-time list, behind heavyweight champion Joe Louis (25), light heavyweight champion Dariusz Michalczewski (23) and strawweight champion Ricardo López (23). “The Pride of Wales” celebrates the 10th anniversary of winning his title just a few weeks before his battle with Kessler. Calzaghe captured the vacant WBO title, October 11, 1997, knocking down two-time world champion and British boxing legend Chris Eubank twice en route to a dominating unanimous decision on scores of 118-109, 118-111 and 116-111.
Calzaghe, 35, returns to the ring after successfully defending his title on April 7 for the 20th consecutive time, stopping top-five contender Peter Manfredo Jr., in the third round, at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. With over 35,000 fans in attendance, the Calzaghe-Manfredo fight shattered the indoor European record for a boxing event. The victory elevated Calzaghe into a fifth-place tie with former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes and former middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins on the all-time list for successful consecutive title defenses.
Kessler, 28, has steamrolled and plundered the division much like his Viking ancestors did during the dawn of the New World. The “Viking Warrior” captured the WBA super middleweight title November 12, 2004, by destroying defending champion Manny Siaca. Leading on scores of 70-62, 70-63 and 69-64, Siaca retired in his corner after the seventh round. Kessler has successfully defended his title four times since, two against former world champions Anthony Mundine and Eric Lucas, followed by a sensational third-round knockout of defending WBC champion Markus Beyer, last October, to unify the titles. In his last fight, on March 24, in his first defense of his WBC/WBA titles, he schooled undefeated No. 1 contender and mandatory challenger Librado Andrade (24-0, 18 KOs), winning on scores of 120-108 on all three judges’ cards.
KO Corner News • Weight Classes • Super Middleweight • Joe Calzaghe • Mikkel Kessler