Kessler vs. Sartison This Saturday
By Scott Gilfoid: This Saturday night, former WBA/WBC super middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler (39-1, 29 KOs) makes his return to the ring in his first fight since losing his titles to Joe Calzaghe when he takes on the hard-punching Dimitri Sartison (22-0, 14 KOs) for the vacant WBA super middleweight title at the Brondby hallen, in Copenhagen, Denmark. It’s been seven months since Kessler, 29, experienced his disappointing unanimous decision loss to Calzaghe at the Millennium Stadium, in Cardiff, Wales, and he’s been in the uncomfortable situation of having to pick a fight that would be best for his boxing career.
He had an opportunity to face Edison Miranda in what would have been a fight that would have paid Kessler a good payday and at the same time given him a lot of visibility in the U.S, as it was going to be shown on the sports cable network ESPN. However, after giving it a lot of thought, Kessler turned it down, instead choosing to go after the WBA super middleweight title held by Anthony Mundine, a fighter that Kessler previously beat three years ago in June 2005. Rather than face Kessler again, who beat him by 12-round unanimous decision, Mundine instead chose to vacate the title and go after a fight against fellow Australian Sam Soliman.
This left Kessler, the number #1 challenger for the WBA title, facing the unbeaten Sartison, ranked #4 in the WBA. As it turns out, this may be an even better fight than a bout against Mundine would be, since Sartison, from what I’ve seen of him, appears to be the better fighter than Mundine and who punches just as hard, but with both hands, not just one like Mundine. Kessler, who had a lot of other options available to him than just this fight, seems intent on getting his title back, even if it’s against a fighter that isn’t particularly well known on the world boxing side of things.
Sartison, 28, is originally from Kazakstan and is now living and fighting out of Hamburg, Germany, has fought almost his entire career in Germany against relatively soft opposition. It wasn’t until recently, when he defeated Pablo Daniel Zamora Nievas by an 8th round TKO in February, that Sartison finally fought someone who was halfway decent. Though I’d rate Sartison’s skills on par with Mundine, perhaps a little better, he is in no way ready to face a fighter of Kessler’s class. This is a huge step up in competition, one that is almost suicidal for a fighter of Sartison’s lack of experience ready to take.
It doesn’t matter how good his skills are, it’s just too big of a leap up in competition for him to be taking at this point in his career, and German management are really taking a big risk by having him face a skilled veteran like Kessler, who go do everything in the ring – slug, move and box with extraordinary skill. This, in effect, will be baptism by fire for Sartison, who better hope that his heavy hands, his excellent jab and sound defense serve him well, because he’s going to have to have a constant jab in his face on Saturday, not to mention a lot of combinations, as well.
Sartison definitely hits hard enough to beat Kessler, and I’d rate him above any of the other fighters that Kessler has faced in his boxing career, but the speed, movement and overall skills of Kessler will likely be way too much for Sartison to have to deal with on Saturday night. Who knows? He may pull it off, but given the fact that he’s not had an opponent remotely close to the skill level of Kessler at this point in his career, that would seem to be asking way to much of Sartison.