Ray Leonard: Mikkel Kessler Can Capture America's Imagination

25.07.06 - COPENHAGEN--Undefeated WBA super middleweight boxing champion Mikkel Kessler is tanned, rested and ready to begin serious preparations for his October 14 title unification bout here against WBC champion Markus Beyer. Kessler, 27, and his veteran promoter Mogens Palle returned this weekend from a week-long "working vacation" to America which included business meetings along with a social visit to the private home of boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard.

"It was a smashing trip," Kessler said after arriving back home. "I spent so much time with Ray Leonard. He is a great fighter, a smart businessman and a great host. He gave me some great advice about how a champion must always be disciplined. He also advised me on how to meet and greet the public and the media. He told me to be sure to focus on Beyer because Beyer will be fighting for personal and national pride on October 14."

"I am very impressed with Mikkel," Leonard said. "I've seen tapes of his bouts and he has good boxing and punching skills. He also has good looks and a pleasing personality. I think this young man could really capture the American public's imagination."

Palle, who will celebrate 50 years as Europe's leading promoter in 2007, renewed old acquaintances with Leonard, who fought his boxer Ayub Kalule 25 years ago, and said that Jeff Wald, an executive producer of "The Contenders;" Leonard; Brian Edwards, COO of Dreamworks and lawyer Henry Holmes were wonderful hosts in the film capital, Hollywood.

"We spent a couple of days in New York and had a nice dinner with Sugar Ray. We also watched the Mosley-Vargas rematch on TV with him," Palle said. "Wald and his associates hosted us for the premiere of the ESPN-televised "Contenders" in Los Angeles and we met many of the talented boxers from that program. We told them the show is quite popular in Denmark."

Palle would not go into details but said that he, Wald and Wald's team discussed areas of mutual interest, Palle also said he hoped that Wald, Leonard and their business partners would come to Denmark for the WBA-WBC unification bout.

"We would love to do that," Wald said. "Some of our female producers swooned for Mikkel. One said he can be the David Beckham of boxing. But it's not just being handsome because, as a veteran boxing man, I can tell you he can really fight. He is the total package."

"It was a true pleasure to meet Mogens who is such a respected promoter," Edwards said. "And Mikkel seems to have a real star quality about him. We enjoyed visiting with both of them and look forward to meeting again soon."

For his part, Palle stressed how much of a danger man the German veteran is.

"It will be all work and no play for Mikkel from now on," Palle said. "Beyer is coming into the ring with his prized WBC belt and with his country's flag. He is coming to take away Kessler's belt. He is a crafty veteran and a versatile fighter. We don't take him lightly."

Article posted on 25.07.2006

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