Ward steps up

Cayman was fortunate to see a potential world champion last year at its Knockout show.

Andre Ward, the 2004 Olympic light-heavyweight champion, won here by knockout in a learning fight.

Ward’s first serious test comes on Saturday. The undefeated American (20-0, 13 KOs) has his opening fight in the Showtime Super Six tournament against WBA super-middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler (42-1, 32 KOs).

The 12 round bout at the Oracle Arena, in Oakland, California is a home fixture for Ward, 25, who lives nearby.

Kessler, 30, is pundits’ the favourite because he has the edge in experience but he has shown cracks in recent fights and it looks like a shrewd match made by Ward’s promoter Dan Goossen.

Kessler’s limitations were exposed in losing on points to Joe Calzaghe two years ago. Ward is as fast as Calzaghe and has better defence and lateral movement.

In the previous two fights in the Super Six tourney involving fellow Americans Jermain Taylor and Andre Dirrell, they lost to German Arthur Abraham and Brit Carl Froch respectively.

Ward said he is unperturbed and does not expect to keep the American losing sequence going.

‘I see Kessler as the old guard in the super middleweight division,’ Ward said. ‘He may be better than most of the fighters aside from Dirrell, Lucian Bute and Ward, but he’s not the top dog in the division anymore in my view.’

A defiant Kessler said: ‘I’m looking forward to Ward and I’m looking forward to a war.’ Okay, but this is one battle he is unlikely to win.