Is Mikkel Kessler Getting Cold Feet about Facing Calzaghe?

kesslerBy Neil Thompson - 15th June 2007 - For the past 12 months I (and many other fans) have been demanding for a super-fight between the real world champion and number one Super Middleweight, Joe Calzaghe and the WBC/WBA alphabet champion, and recognised number 2 of the division, Mikkel Kessler of Denmark.

In October 2006 I even wrote an article about it entitled "The Fights we Need for 2007". What was stopping this fight from happening was, as usual, the promoters. Arguments over money, venue and date were ruining the chance of this potentially great fight from happening.

At first the argument was over money and who got the lion share. Then came a dispute over the venue as both are now great ticket sellers in their own countries. Naturally, Morgens Palle (Kessler’s promoter) wanted the fight in Denmark whilst Frank Warren would rather see the contest in Wales. In such a 50-50 contest the home crowd can make all the difference and this would be a huge fight in either Wales or Denmark. Then there was a problem regarding the date.

Warren wanted the contest in late-July but this was deemed to be too early for Kessler having just defeated Labrado Andrade in late-March. This problem had apparently been resolved with Calzaghe accepting a career high £2.5 million paycheque to go to Denmark to face to exceptional Dane in September. So now the money issue was resolved, the venue had been agreed and the date was pushed back from July to September. It seemed Calzaghe had given Kessler everything he wanted in exchange for a career high purse. Warren, on Calzaghe’s behalf, agreed to Morgens Palle’s offer and this great matchup looked set for September. However, things are not always what they seem and Morgens Palle has decided to ‘move the goal posts’. Now Kessler won’t fight until November, a total of 8 months after his one-sided beating of Andrade. Why does Kessler need 8 months in-between fights? I could understand Kessler feeling July was too soon but moving the fight November is indefensible. Warren has been unusually flexible in trying to arrange this contest, whilst Morgen’s Palle has been strangely quite once Calzaghe accepted his offer. Warren faxed Kessler’s people about 2 weeks ago and I was getting suspicious as to why Palle was so slow in responding. You’d think Palle would have jumped at the chance for Kessler to fight Calzaghe. After all, Palle had got everything he wanted, the promotion rights, the venue, the money and the later fight date. Reading between the lines, it appears that Morgens Palle is not as confident of a Kessler victory as we had previously been lead to believe.

Over the last few years I have been one of Sports Network’s biggest critics and I have sometimes been disillusioned with Calzaghe’s career as well. However, in my opinion both Calzaghe and Warren are blameless for this latest breakdown in negotiations. It looks like Calzaghe/Warren have called Kessler/Palle’s bluff and found that they are not so eager to face the ‘Welsh Dragon’ as we have been previously been lead to believe.

If this fight does happen I think it will be a classic contest and close to a 50-50 fight especially since Kessler would have the home crowd advantage. The style match up looks like it would make for an entertaining fight; both are excellent boxers with good chins. Calzaghe’s speed and work rate against Kessler’s power and more conservative style. I have always felt that Calzaghe is one of the top 2 or 3 super middleweights in the division’s 20-year history, maybe even the best (arguably). For the past 3-years, I have also had the opinion that Mikkel Kessler is an exceptional talent and Calzaghe’s natural successor to rule the division. Kessler’s sudden reluctance is mystifying and disappointing.

My message to Kessler – After calling out Calzaghe for over a year and getting the fight in Denmark in front of your own fans, why are you hesitating? Take the fight in September. By that time it will be 7-8 months since your last contest. You’ll never get a better chance to beat Calzaghe. If you don’t take this fight now, you don’t deserve it later.

Thank you for reading

Article posted on 15.06.2007

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