Mikkel Kessler didn't look good early today in Copenhagen against Allan Green, and had to pick himself up off the canvas in round one, but the Danish superstar rallied, got his defense together, and then knocked Green cold in the fourth round with a monster left hook from way downtown, emphatically ending the fight, but leaving a few questions about the wear-and-tear on his body, too.
Kessler (45-2, 34 KO) was sort of coming up to the light heavyweight division with this fight, and indeed did win the vacant WBC Silver title, but he weighed in yesterday at 169 pounds, just a pound over the super middleweight limit he's used to, while Green came in just a shade under 172 for the fight, so it really was more a catchweight fight than a full-fledged move to light heavyweight, even though to the best of my knowledge, it was not an actual catchweight fight.
The performance, which was rocky and did see Kessler looking a bit old, if still quite capable, and his clear ability to still make 168 leaves him sort of a wild card between the divisions right now, someone who could take a big fight at either weight, or simply stay in Denmark and make big money the rest of his career, facing opponents at either 168 or 175, depending on what he wants to do.
It was clear, however, that this is no longer the Kessler of old. Now 33 and with numerous injuries having hampered his career over the last few years, including eye surgery and some hand problems, he's clearly on the downside. That doesn't mean he still can't compete at a top level, but he probably has passed his time as a truly elite fighter.
Green (31-4, 21 KO) looked sharp early, but that may have been a mirage largely created by Kessler leaving his left hand perilously low in the first round, allowing Green a chance to nail him with good right hands. Once Kessler tightened up the defense in round two, it became a pretty one-sided affair, and Green looked constantly unsure of what to do with himself.
It was Kessler's left hook that became the weapon of choice, as he landed a few good ones before finally creaming Green with the knockout blow early in the fourth round. I'd say it must have been a bitter disappointment for Green, and I'm sure that it was, but for the rest of us who are not Allan Green, it wasn't anything out of the ordinary. He looks more and more like a fighter who was thought to have a chance, failed when crunch time came along, and now is just a rather ordinary fighter. He never did put it all together, and at this point, clearly never is going to do so.
Undercard: Masternak and Nielsen Win Easy
Patrick Nielsen improved to 15-0 (8 KO) with a six-round shutout win over Italy's Gaetano Nespro (19-9-1, 3 KO). Nespro, 32, never had any shot in this one, really, and fought like a guy there to survive six rounds, which was about all one could expect. Nielsen, 21, is getting a strong push in Denmark and seems to be marketed as sort of a "next Kessler," but he is not Kessler, and time will tell that tale on its own. He has big time flaws, and I have a hard time projecting him as more than an also-ran until he starts making some serious improvements, particularly on the defensive side. He also has a habit of fighting angry, which makes him sloppy offensively and even more open to big shots coming back. Luckily, he's not had much to worry about with his opponents to date, but it's tough for me to envision a Nielsen who ever competes at a top level.
Polish cruiserweight Mateusz Masternak also stayed unbeaten at 27-0 (20 KO), scoring a wide, dull, 10-round decision over Hari Miles of Wales. Miles falls to 7-5 (2 KO).