Hamlet could smell Mogens Palle over 400 years ago. Photo by Carsten Snejbjerg
For the past few years, there have been reports of strife between Danish promotional bigwig Mogens Palle and his cash cow, Mikkel Kessler. It appears that this conflict has finally come to a head.
According to Ekstra Bladet (link in Danish), Kessler's taking Palle to court in order to get out of his contract. Palle is claiming that Kessler has three more fights under Palle, and Kessler is claiming that Palle only has one fight left. Other sources have indicated that Palle has been trying to extract blood from Kessler and force him into signing an extension in order to take his mandatory defense against Gusmyl Perdomo.
This maneuver throws Kessler's career in doubt for about the next year, unless he and Palle can somehow settle their differences. The Perdomo fight is going to purse bid soon, and it's unlikely that Palle will make a bid as long as the two are battling it out. On the other side, Kessler isn't going to be able to fight under Palle unless Palle wins a purse bid, since that would lend credibility to Palle's claim that the contract will continue on. Furthermore, Palle has implied that he might try to win the purse bid just to not set the fight quickly enough for Kessler to keep his belt. The fight would need to be made by July 25 for Kessler to keep the title. Basically, it's a fine mess that will likely end up with Kessler being stripped and being out of the ring until the dispute is settled.
This isn't the first time Palle has messed with a fighter's career. As THE big name promoter in Denmark, he's had a hand in almost all Danish talent for the past 30 years or so. Palle was also the promoter for Mads Larsen. Larsen felt he was being mismanaged and wanted to get out of his contract. Palle refused to budge. The end result was that Larsen had to sit out from fighting for over three years during the prime of his career in order to get out of the contract. Only recently has Larsen come back, and the time off took away a lot of the gifts that allowed him to nearly beat Sven Ottke.
Kessler now finds himself in the same situation, with a stubborn, thick-headed promoter who's proven in the past that he's willing to kill a fighter's career rather than let them fight for someone else. It's tough to blame Kessler here. While Palle got him a string of good fights, he almost blocked the Calzaghe fight from happening, and he was about to get more US TV exposure with an Edison Miranda fight when Palle backed him out of that one to get a title shot against no-name Dmitri Sartison. That contract included three options for Palle. Palle maintains that he still has all three options, while Kessler says that his defense against Danilo Haussler used one of them and an aborted fight against Mads Larsen used another.
Here's to hoping Kessler wins, and that the case moves quickly. Super middleweight is one of the most intriguing divisions out there right now, and there are tons of great fights that could be made with Kessler. While Kessler is European, his style and look, as well as the fact that he's fluent in English, means that he could have some cross-over appeal. With a major US promoter, we could see Kessler launch into a star.