Source: Dan Rafael
Whatever respect Mikkel Kessler had gained by winning his first 39 fights in impressive fashion and then making as good a showing as anyone has in defeat to Joe Calzaghe, it's probably about to go by the wayside.
Denmark's former 168-pound titlist has backed out of an agreed-upon deal to fight knockout star Edison Miranda on May 24th, live on Showtime, according to ESPN's Dan Rafael. The 29-year old Kessler (39-1, 29 KO) hasn't fought since losing to Calzaghe last November, and in fact the only time his name has really come up has been in attachment to Miranda, other than questions like, "Anyone heard what's up with Mikkel Kessler lately? Is he going to fight soon?"
Judging as an outsider -- because that's always fun -- Kessler and his team are coming off like cowards right now. Miranda called Kessler out repeatedly, dogged him to the boxing media, and only after it started to really make Kessler look bad was a fight agreed to, or so we thought. And by "we," I include Showtime.
The fight was to be Kessler's first on American soil, and Miranda's team says they conceded everything to Kessler that he requested, including that the fight not take place on Native American ground or in the state of Florida, that Kessler would receive $600,000 (400,000 euros), and many other things.
From Rafael's article:
Margules said Marley didn't even bother to call him and that he found out from Showtime that the fight was off.
DiBella was also disgusted with Kessler and his team.
"I was dealing with Mogens Palle and Mike Marley. I should have expected no less," DiBella said. "I found this fight for Kessler at the request of Mogens and I spent a lot of time working on it. We sent them a contract reflecting everything they asked for. But then Mike wouldn't take my calls for a week and Mogens has been ill. No one ever came back with comments on the contract and then Mike called [Showtime's] Ken Hershman directly and blamed me, saying the contract didn't reflect the deal. Then Ken asked him why they never came back with comments on the contract and Mike changed his tune and said that Kessler had some other opportunity for a world title fight. Which is it?
"The way in which this was handled is preposterous. If they didn't want the fight, just say so. I made an unbelievable deal for the Kessler side but they are too stupid to see it."
Marley didn't return a telephone message or e-mail from ESPN.com seeking comment.
Miranda, who is 2-0 since moving up to super middleweight in the wake of his middleweight title elimination loss to Kelly Pavlik, who would on to win the title, in May 2007, wasn't all that surprised that Kessler withdrew.
The trash-talking Miranda had goaded Kessler into the accepting the fight in the first place.
"I didn't get my hopes up because I know Kessler is afraid of me," Miranda said. "We gave him everything he wanted to make this fight and he still wouldn't take it. In fact, the only thing we didn't give him is the opportunity to tie my hands around my back while we fought. But at this point I'm willing to even give him that because I know if I yelled 'boo' at him in the ring he'd turn and run. I said it before and I'll say it again -- he should be ashamed to call himself a 'Viking Warrior.'"
I'll tell you, this is a situation where Kessler and Co. better be ready to take shots from the boxing media, from other fighters, from promoters, and from everyone else. Agreeing to a fight -- when Showtime promotes it, they think it's real -- and then backing out with no real reason given and unreturned phone calls is bad business, no mater how you slice it. And it makes Kessler look like a coward.
That might be the best thing he's called any time soon.
Not only do they leave Edison Miranda hanging, but they leave Showtime hanging with an open date they'd set aside for a fight they were very excited to get. And they leave fight fans hanging, too -- I don't think anyone was less than thrilled that this fight was going to happen from the word "go."
He's also burning bridges with this, though he may simply be content to take easy or relatively easy fights on his home turf. If that's the case, then all the best to him as he joins the legion of fighters that never gains true global respect. I'm not one of the American fight fans that thinks you have to fight in America to be a star or be a great fighter, but there's no denying it helps. Ricky Hatton's goal was to fight in Vegas, and he did so. Even Joe Calzaghe, who long avoided coming to America, is doing so to face Bernard Hopkins.
Don't mistake me here. I don't think Kessler is any worse of a fighter now than I did yesterday, but I do question his boxing character now, and I won't be the only one. I thought he should've been considered the clear favorite against Miranda. Maybe he didn't think so.