Jesper Leaves Ring Without Regrets

25.07.05 - One could be forgiven to think that Danish cruiserweight Jesper Kristiansen, at the age of 33 and following two straight losses, has made the decision to retire from the ring with a bitter taste, especially considering that it was made in a small dressing room in far-away Siracuse, Sicily on the heels of a shelling by the hands of Vincenzo Rossitto.

But that is not the case. Kristiansen had the nobility of thanking his managers Henrik Risum and Olaf Schroeder for their faith in him, and simply said “That’s it for me”, hinting to now turn his attention to training fighters. That should be a rewarding avenue for the formerly world-ranked man from Varde on the Danish mainland, who had a distinguished career in the ring that so nearly brought him a world title fight against WBO champ Johnny Nelson at one time.

Kristiansen turned professional in 1998 with promoter and manager Anders Vester and from the start worked with Schroeder as the prospects’ matchmaker. Jesper remained undefeated in his first seven starts, before Alexander Jacob, 17-4-1 at the time, proved too experienced and snatched a close decision over a man who was just a 10-month rookie. Jesper payed Jacob too much respect at the start and then ran out of time in the 6-rounder. But he had learned a valuable lesson and raked up six straight wins to set up an April 2000 showdown with Gerry Delaney for the vacant WBO Intercontinental crown. Often labeled a non-exciting boxer with little punch, Kristiansen came off age in a real war, forcing the Englishman to quit after 10 exciting rounds. Equally memorable was Jesper’s toe-to-toe struggle with French-Turk Turan Bagci in early 2001, but the Dane was able to hold on to his title with a draw. During that time, a clash of TV interests killed a proposed fight with Nelson, while the Dane was rated No. 3 by the WBO. Maybe Jesper, with only one loss in 22 fights by the tailend of 2001, was thinking of that lost opportunity for one split second during the second round of his second Intercontinental defence – anyway, Algerian Mohammed Benguesmia nailed the Dane right on the button and the fight was over. Kristiansen had been knocked out clean and was left to pick up the pieces of his career!

That he did in good fashion, though, winning three times in a row, before leaving Vester in 2002 to join promoter Mogens Palle, Vester’s promotional arch-enemy then. His first fight for Palle was against rising countryman Johny Jensen, and Jesper came up the short end in a 6-round decision. But again the tall Varde stylist came back well, scoring two knockouts to close out 2002 and on the way collect the IBA Continental title. When Kristiansen finally got the chance to meet European cruiserweight champion Pietro Aurino, circumstances went so much out of control, that Jesper slumped to a somewhat disappointing points defeat in May 2003.

He went on a long think for the rest of the year, before deciding to give boxing one more try. He remembered matchmaker and manager Schroeder from working with him for over three years while fighting for Team Vester and got close to Henrik Risum, who was trying to make a name for himself as a manager in Denmark. In a way, Kristiansen convinced the experienced German and the Danish upstart to team up and give him one last chance at boxing. That cooperation led to title shots at the WBU ‘world’ crown and the final swansong which was the IBF Intercontinental fight with Rossitto in Italy, both proving unsuccessful, as we now know.

So now Jesper Kristiansen, after collecting a 33-fight professional record standing at 25-6-1 (9 KO’s) and 1 NC, has decided that his days in the ring are a thing of the past. He can be proud of his exploits in the ring, even though he failed to hit the absolute heights, and does look forward to life with longtime partner Ulla, and as a trainer for young amateurs. And that might lead the likeable Dane back to the professional ring one day.

“Except that one year with Palle, I was with Jesper for all of his career. And, yes, while I am a bit sad about the way it has ended, I absolutely feel priviledged for the ride he has taken me onto. He definitely is one of the nicer guys in boxing and I would wish we can somehow work together again in some way,” said Olaf Schroeder, “I can only bring to your attention what my partner Henrik Risum has said about Jesper on his website at - that matches my feelings perfectly well. Thanks and good luck always, Jesper!”.

Article posted on 25.07.2005

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