Shattering his own European indoor record by drawing 50,000 fans to Cardiff's Millennium Dome, WBO Super Middleweight Champion Joe Calzaghe annexed the WBC and WBA titles of Denmark's Mikkel Kessler last night with a dominating performance.
The southpaw employed superior movement early on to keep Kessler from unleashing his full arsenal and by the time the Dane had closed the distance and began to trade with Calzaghe, the Welsh Wizard's sharp countering had a shattering effect on Kessler's confidence.
Calzaghe controlled the pace of the bout with his superior speed of hand and foot but the quality of Kessler did finally shine through in the later rounds when he forced the WBO kingpin to slug it out.
But the iron chin of the "Italian Dragon" proved up to the task of handling Kessler's power, particularly in the 12th and final round when the Dane knew his only hope of overturning Calzaghe's lead was to finish things before the bell ended the unification bout.
When the smoke finally cleared, Calzaghe, 44-0 (32), had clearly retained his WBO title for the 21st time via scores of 117-111 and 116-112 (twice). Kessler drops to 39-1 (29).
On the undercard, WBO Cruiserweight Champion Enzo Maccarinelli, 28-1 (21), kept his belt for the third time by stopping previously unbeaten New Zealander Mohamed Azzaoui, 22-1-1 (8), in four rounds with a committed body attack.
In a battle of light heavyweight prospects, Nathan Cleverly, 11-0 (3), outpointed Joey Vegas, 10-2 (3), over eight rounds 78-75.
Former European, Commonwealth and British Super Feather title challenger Ricky Burns, 19-2 (4), got a scare during a unexpectedly tough six rounder against Youssef Al Hamidi, 2-5-1 (1), pulling out a narrow 58-57 points win.
Southpaw Barrie Jones, 15-0 (7), outpointed veteran Silence Saheed, 8-19-3 (5), at welter by a score of 39-37.