by Geoffrey Ciani (Exclusive Interview with Jenna J & Geoffrey Ciani) – Last week’s 125th edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio (brought to you by CWH Promotions) featured an exclusive interview with former three time super middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler (43-2, 32 KOs) who is scheduled to come back on June 4 when he faces Mehdi Bouadla (22-3, 10 KOs). Kessler spoke about his upcoming fight and also provided his views on other aspects of the current boxing landscape, including the Super Six, Manny Pacquiao, Lucian Bute, his future plans, and more! Here is a complete transcript of that interview.
JENNA J: It’s actually time for our final guest of this week’s show and one I’m very proud to have because it’s a long time in the making. We are joined by the former three time super middleweight champion, “The Viking Warrior”, Mikkel Kessler. How are you doing today., Mikkel?
MIKKEL KESSLER: I’m doing very good. I’ve just been training.
JENNA: Excellent. Well good to hear. You’re training for an upcoming fight that you have against Mehdi Bouadla on June 4. How have the preparations been going?
KESSLER: It’s been going very good. I had some good sparring. I had problems with my eyes and it’s been going very good for the sparring rounds. I feel good. I’m ready to fight.
JENNA: Great. Now how did it feel just to get back in there and start sparring after you had that long period of inactivity?
KESSLER: Of course it was a difficult time for me the first couple of rounds because I wanted to see how my eyes reacted, but it reacted very good. I feel very good. Of course it’s been one year and two months since my last fight. It’s going to be hard to come back of course, but I feel ready.
JENNA: Now how do you feel about your opponent Mehdi Bouadla?
KESSLER” He’s a strong opponent. I think it’s a good fight for me as my first fight. I saw some of his videos. He looks strong, physically strong. He’s not my height but he’s a physically strong guy, a little like Abraham with coming forward. So it’s going to be a very good fight.
JENNA: Now Mikkel, your fight with Mehdi Bouadla is actually going to be shown on Showtime as the lead-in to Froch versus Johnson. I’m curious what do you think about that fight and the way that the tournament has progressed since you’ve been out of it?
KESSLER: I think they’re all solid fights in the Super Six. It’s been a great tournament. Of course I’m ashamed that I couldn’t be there all the way, but I think there have been some good fights there. Now Carl Froch and Glen Johnson I think it’s going to a bit of an ugly fight because Johnson doesn’t want to fight as much. Carl Froch wants to fight. I think we’re going to see a hard fight. It’s not the best fight ever, but I think we’re going to see a hard fight and an awkward fight.
JENNA: Okay now even though the Finals aren’t exactly set, you have Andre Ward. He’s already in the Finals and obviously the winner of Froch-Johnson will be there. Who do you expect to win the tournament just seeing what you’ve seen so far?
KESSLER: Of course I fought Ward. I fought Froch. I haven’t fought Johnson. I think that Carl Froch has a good chance of winning the Super Six. Ward is a good fighter. He’s a clever fighter. He knows how to hold the opponent. He knows how to spar his opponent. So it’s difficult to say in the Super Six. It’s a difficult tournament, but I would actually put my cards on Carl Froch.
JENNA: Okay, we’re also on the line with my Co-Host Geoff.
GEOFFREY CIANI: Hello Mikkel. It’s a pleasure to have you on the show.
KESSLER: Thank you very much.
CIANI: I’m curious Mikkel, did you see the last fight between Andre Ward and Arthur Abraham and if so what did you think of Ward’s performance in that one?
KESSLER: You know I think Ward is a clever boxer. He punches and he holds. Abraham had a good three first rounds. His first three rounds were good but he doesn’t trust himself much. He doesn’t change his style. When I fought Ward it was difficult for me. This was wrong, this was wrong. I had to go home to the gym and do a lot of other things. I had to change my trainer. You have to change up things and I didn’t think Abraham changed anything. But of course Ward did a good job. It’s how he should do it.
CIANI: Now Mikkel I wanted to get your opinion on another super middleweight, a guy who wasn’t in the Super Six tournament but a lot of people still consider him to be amongst the best in the division and that is Lucian Bute. What do you think of him as a fighter?
KESSLER: I think Lucian Bute is a great fighter. Of course now we have the Super Six. We can have a Super Twenty next time maybe. It’s difficult to say, but Lucian Bute is a great fighter. I just attended one of his fights with Brian Magee. He’s a tough fighter but he hasn’t had the big fights yet so I’m looking forward to that.
CIANI: If you’re successful in your next upcoming fight on June 4, which guy out there would you most like to face? Would you like to face Bute? Or would you like to face the winner of the Super Six? Or maybe somebody else perhaps?
KESSLER: You can call on everyone. I’m not scared of anyone and I’m ready to fight the big guys of course. Bute would be a great fight. Of course the Super Six winner, that was my dream that I was taken out of because of my eye injury. You know whatever comes to me. I don’t know what kind of fight we can make but of course I want to fight the best of the best.
CIANI: Now changing things up a tiny bit here, one of the questions I like to ask the guests on our show is the story behind how they first started using their boxing nicknames, and in your case how did you first start using “The Viking Warrior”?
KESSLER: I have a good friend in the States called Carlos “Famoso” Hernandez who was a world champion also and we actually came up with “The Vikining” because I have a tattoo with a big Viking I got in Denmark. So I tattooed a big Viking on my back and it started from there and he said, “You have to be ‘The Viking Warrior’!” Then it just came one day at a time. In the start they called me “The Hit Man”, but there was “Hit Man” Hearns and all the others so I wanted my own name. So it was Carlos Hernandez who made that name for me.
JENNA: Alright well Mikkel you recently actually turned 32 years old. I mean do you feel like you’re still near your prime?
KESSLER: Yeah, I do. I would have quit when I turned 30. I feel as if I still have it. It’s not like my reflexes are bad or I can’t see the punches anymore. I have had none of that. Everything is working so well for me in the gym. Now I have one gym break. Of course I’ve been training but me and my trainer have been talking to him about my reflexes and my punches and I still got it. The day I go into the gym and I can see this bad, then I will quit. But now I feel I’m in my prime and I have a lot of education inside the boxing ring. I know how to fight the good fighters and the bad. I know how to change my style. So I will still be ready in a couple of years.
JENNA: Well a few times since your last fight with Carl Froch we’ve had Carl on the show and he has insisted that he retired you. He said he never expects a rematch between you and him to happen because of what happened between you and him in the ring. I mean how do you feel about that fight you had with Carl and how much would you like to have a rematch with him?
KESSLER: I would have a rematch with Carl, no problem. I won the fight. He’s a great fighter and a good guy Carl, but it wasn’t him who stopped my career in the Super Six or made me have to pull out because of that fight. I had it actually a little bit with my eye before the Ward fight and it just got worse and worse and worse. So it had nothing to do with Carl Froch. So I don’t think I should retire. I won the fight and I should be in the Finals now in the Super Six.
JENNA: Now you’ve had a great career so far Mikkel, but when you look at your career as a whole what do you think was your toughest fight so far?
KESSLER: I’ve had a lot of tough fights but they are tough in a different way. You know I had my losses, against Ward when I wasn’t there that day. I had Joe Calzaghe. It was my other loss and it was a tough fight, and of course I had Froch. It was a very tough fight because nobody believes in you and everyone says you’re finished and now you have to retire and I came back. So it was a tough time for me and entering the training for the three months before the fight. So it’s difficult to say what’s the toughest but that’s some of the toughest. I had maybe five or six tough fights in my career.
CIANI: Mikkel when you look one division north of you at light heavyweight there is a big rematch happening this weekend between Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal and I’m wondering who do you think is going to win that rematch following their somewhat controversial draw?
KESSLER: They’re too good fighters. Hopkins is getting old but he still knows the game. I think Pascal should win the fight, but Hopkins is a clever guy. He’s intelligent. I can’t say who’s going to win the fight. I don’t know.
CIANI: Now do you have any desire of perhaps moving up to 175 yourself someday soon?
KESSLER: No. I’m a perfect super middleweight so I’m going to stay here.
CIANI: Great. Now I’m wondering Mikkel what do you think of the sport’s biggest star right now, Manny Pacquiao?
KESSLER: Oh he’s a great fighter, a great fighter. Maybe instead of going up to light heavyweight I should go down to Manny Pacquiao. That would probably be better. But of course he’s a great guy and a big name. Pacquiao’s an incredibly fast tough little guy. So of course all the best to him, he’s doing a really, really good job.
CIANI: Now the fight that all the fans want to see is a fight between him and Floyd Mayweather. In your opinion do you think we’ll ever get to see that fight?
KESSLER: I hope so! Like all of you I hope for the fight, but I don’t know why. I read something about some doping tests and I read some other things. I don’t know what’s going on but of course I hope the fight takes place one day and I will be there.
JENNA: Okay Mikkel, well we just have a few more questions before we let you off the line, and I’m curious what do you think is going to be the most important thing to allow you to be victorious on against Mehdi Bouadla on June 4?
KESSLER: The important thing is to take control of the fight from the start. He’s a little guy. He’s going to come forward. He’s going to try to tear me down and to knock me out of course. He’s going to try to do his thing in the ring. I have to not let him do anything. I have to take control of the fight from the first minute I get out of the corner and use my long arms and think about what to do.
JENNA: Okay now you obviously want to have a big 2011. How do you expect this year to end out for you?
KESSLER: I think it’s going to be a great year for me because I can feel I’m back. I can feel I’m hungry. Of course I couldn’t be in the Super Six. I want to show I’m still here. I want to show my fans that I’m still here. I’m back and I still got it! So it’s going to be a great year for me.
JENNA: Great. Obviously we mentioned a few times that you’ve been out of the ring for a long time. What do you miss most?
KESSLER: I miss staying in the ring with all of my fans and of course I’ve been missing all of the good training. Some days, of course, it’s not very nice to go through some hard training but when it goes good all of it is worth it. Of course I miss standing in the spotlight and being there where I want to be.
JENNA: Alright well you mentioned your fans briefly. Is there anything you want to say to them in closing?
KESSLER: I just want to say that I am grateful that they are following me. They are writing some very good things about me and they still trust me. I just want to say thank you for everything to the fans in the world. I’m going to be there. I’m going to be back and I’m going to be more than ready.
JENNA: Arlight Mikkel, well it’s been an absolute pleasure having a chance to speak to you. I wish you all the best of luck and we’re looking forward to seeing you back in the ring.
KESSLER: Okay, thank you very much.
CIANI: Thanks Mikkel. Best of luck.
KESSLER: Okay. Thank you. Take care. Bye.
For those interested in listening to the Mikkel Kessler interview in its entirety, it begins approximately one hour and ten minutes into the program.
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