The 168-pound main event will start a little after 10PM ET. The live blog begins below.
Kessler (42-1, 32 knockouts) vs. Ward (20-0, 13 KOs) live blog: Refresh this page often for minute-by-minute updates.
Pre-fight: Ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. introduced Ward, who entered the ring waving a small American flag, and wearing a mostly-white robe with two red stripes down the middle, two blue ones starting from the shoulder and going down, and with JESUS CHRIST on the back. He also wore red, white and blue trunks.
Kessler entered the arena wearing a white and red T-shirt, and was booed. Behind him, a member of his entourage carried his WBA belt overhead. His trunks were the color of the Danish flag -- red and white.
Among the fight's rules: No standing eight, no three knockdowns, only the referee can stop the fight, and a fighter can't be saved by the bell.
Round 1: The fighters met at ring center, and Ward threw the first three jabs. Ward circled, jabbed to the body. Neither fighter has broken a sweat. Kessler has thrown two left hooks. Ward has thrown and landed two hooks as well. Ward has switched to southpaw, but is pawing with the right jab. Cornered, Ward twice escaped harm, the second time, by tying up the champion. Ward jabs to the chest and body as well as the head. Ward -- the crowd chanting, "USA, USA" -- appears to be encouraged. Kessler fails to take advantage of Ward's back being against the ropes a third time. Ward closes by landing a lead left hand. Ward's round, 10-9.
Round 2: The busier fighter, Ward counters with a left hook. He appears to have found a home for it. Kessler follows Ward to the corner and digs to the body, but as Ward circles off, misses with two right hands. Ward continues to circle and jab -- going left and right. Kessler misses again with a right. Ward is in and out and clinching. Kessler's rhythm is off, but he regains it long enough to jab twice to the body in a corner. Ward switches back to southpaw, and, during a clinch, is the busier fighter. When the clinch breaks, Ward closes with a double-jab, a lead left and a fourth punch. Ward's round, 10-9.
Round 3: The combinations and the hand-speed of Ward have been the difference so far, as the usually fluid Kessler appears stiff and surprisingly flat-footed. Ward, back to his orthodox style, wins the early battle of jabs in the round. Kessler has problems getting set for the big punch. Ward is following his jabs with straight rights. And then, he clinches. Kessler's jab is absent. His right hand misses. Ward drives home a left-, right-, left combination and clinches. After the break, Ward nails Kessler with a right hand. Ward closes with a right and two more lead lefts. Ward's round, 10-9.
Round 4: A tell-tale mouse has developed under Kessler's right eye, as Ward continues to out-box him. Ward stands before Kessler and digs a three-punch combination to the midsection, starting with his left, and then dances away. Kessler continues to allow Ward to get in and out and beat him to the punch, without making him pay. Kessler manages to nail a ducking Ward with a left hook, but during the break of a clinch, Ward digs lefts and rights to the head and body of a covering-up Kessler. Kessler is bleeding under his right eye, and takes a huge right hand. Encouraged, Ward follows with seven unanswered blows. Kessler -- bleeding from beneath his right eye -- backs off the entire time. Ward's round, 10-9.
Round 5: It appears that a right hand opened the cut under Kessler's eye, but that the mouse was started by a head-butt. Nevertheless, Ward siezes the early part of the round, jabbing and firing overhand rights. Kessler appears to be bleeding from his mouth, and takes a hard right. Kessler's left hook has landed twice, but he is blocked by Ward on the third attempt. Kessler lands a jab, but takes a right and a subsequent jab from Ward. Kessler lands a jab, but takes a straight left out of Ward's southpaw stance. Kessler, who did not spar with left-handers, appears confused when Ward fights as a leftie. Kessler returns to his corner with blood streaming from beneath his right eye. Ward's round, 10-9.
Round 6: The challenger's circling continues, but Ward badly misses with a left and a right. Ward attacks with long lefts and rights, landing about three of them. Another overhand right is delivered on a holding Kessler, who then takes an uppercut. Ward is a step too quick, and is simply faster than the champion. Ward throws a lead-right, and a left jab from his orthodox stance -- the latter jolting back the champion's head. Kessler lands an overhand right, and then a left, but takes a punch in between. Ward pursues behind his jab and misses with a right. A straight right hand nails Kessler on the chin with about 10 seconds left. Ward's round, 10-9
Round 7: Ward continues forward and Kessler backs up. Kessler drives a left hook to the body. The crowd gets behind Ward, who jabs and follows up with a left to the body. Kessler, who looks flat, "is tired," Ward's corner told him between the sixth and seventh round. Kessler lands two of three jabs, but Ward, his hands dropping, counters well. Kessler misses with a wild left hook, but catches Ward with a right uppercut. Three straight jabs, and then a right all pop Kessler's head back. Ward jabs to the body and then to the head and body to close the round. Ward's round, 10-9.
Round 8: Kessler tells his corner "I can't see," between rounds. Kessler lands a short right early, and lands a left to the body. But Ward nails him with a counter right hand. Kessler appears to be fading. Ward comes on as Kessler clinches. Ward drives a right to the body and jabs to the head. Kessler's hands are dropping, and his defense appears to be weakening. Ward lands two long punches -- a right and a left. Ward takes a short left hook as he jumps forward into a clinch, but he takes it well. Ward lands two left jabs, a right, and then a left. Kessler landa a left and a right, but Ward closes with a three-punch combination that appears to have Kessler cowering. Ward's round, 10-9.
Round 9: There was desparation in Kessler's corner after the eighth round. Severely cut over his left eye -- from an apparent head-butt -- and below the right, Kessler repeatedly complained of not being able to see. He was told by his cornerman, Richard Olson, that he needs a knockout. Kessler simply backs off as Ward steps up the pressure behind his left jab, lead-left and followup right hands. Kessler holds, and when not in a clinch, appears unable to defend himself. Ward drives a left to the body that causes Kessler to wince. Ward takes a left uppercut during a late surge by Kessler, but his early activity won him the round. Ward's round, 10-9.
Round 10: Ward starts by jabbing twice to the head and once to the body. And then, Ward fires a fourth, and then, a fifth, very stiff, piston-like jab into Kessler's face. Another head-butt causes another cut to Kessler -- this time, above the right eye. Ward drives in a right and a left and then a double-lead-right, followed by a left. Kessler lands a right against the on-rusing Ward, but Ward pops back Kessler's head with a shot of his own. Ward lands a right, a left, and then, later, repeats that sequence -- all to the head of Kessler. Ward, as he has all night, works the free hands during clinches. Ward's versatility has Kessler completely untracked as it has all night, and Kessler's corner appears to be in disarray. Ward's round, 10-9.
Round 11: Asked if he can contiinue by his corner between rounds, Kessler answers to the affirmative. Yet he continues to be victimized by Ward's general activity -- the jab, the right hand, and the busier blows during clinches. Finally, referee Jack Reiss calls time to have Kessler's facial injuries examined. And on the advice of a ringside doctor, Reiss stops the fight.
Although they will go to the cards, due to the injuries caused by head-butt, it is apparent that Andre Ward will be the new WBA super middleweight champion.
Sweden's Mikael Hook had it 97-93, and both South Africa's Stanley Christodoulou and California's Steve Morrow had it, 98-92, all for Ward.
FanHouse scored it, 100-90, for Ward.