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Re-examining the Kessler-Miranda fiasco

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

340x_medium Last month, in a "Boxing's 15 Biggest Losers of 2008" piece I put together, I had Danish super middleweight Mikkel Kessler ranked ninth.

I said, in short, that it wasn't really his fault. He's a talented fighter -- we all know that. He gave Joe Calzaghe arguably the toughest fight of his career. I did blame his management team for yanking him out of a Showtime fight with Edison Miranda, which seemed to burn any goodwill he had in the States, and especially with our two biggest fight networks, HBO and Showtime.

Michael Marley, who you probably know from, also works as an agent for promoter Mogens Palle and Kessler. He had a lot to say about the Kessler-Miranda situation.

"We had two chances to fight Miranda, one on Showtime and then on HBO," he says. "The Showtime deal was rejected because Miranda's promoter reneged on how Kessler's purse would be paid.

"Then HBO came calling about the same fight and Kessler accepted the fight, all the terms for the fight including holding the bout at the Seminole Tribe Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida. In other words, Kessler accepted fighting in Miranda's promoter's home ring.

"Kessler's acceptance was done in writing and sent to HBO officials and to [promoters] Leon Margules and Lou DiBella... It was Miranda's guy, Mr. Margules, who stabbed HBO in the back, ducking out to fight Abraham. He was double dealing HBO. HBO was pissed but they couldn't do anything about it."

Marley also had a question for fight fans.

"Does anyone in their right mind think that Kessler, who went to Australia to fight Mundine in his backyard, and then to Wales to fight Calzaghe in his, would duck Miranda?"

This was the baffling thing at the time for many of us. On paper, Kessler was a pretty heavy favorite over Miranda, who seemed to have a puncher's chance but little else. While Miranda is certainly always dangerous, Kessler is no slouch in the power department in his own right. I don't think any of us felt that Kessler was truly ducking Miranda. We did feel shafted that the fight didn't take place, since it had fireworks in theory, and also because Showtime was already running ads for the bout.

As for Kessler's return to the rings of Denmark, Marley said, "Kessler wanted to regain a title so he reclaimed his WBA crown. Then he got stuck with a mandatory defense against sorry Danilo Haussler. If you want to be a world champion you have to live up to mandatory bout rules or you will lose your title."

Mr. Marley also is adamant that they've tried to make other big fights, as well, including one that may surprise you.

"Recently, Chad Dawson turned down a catch weight fight on HBO for March 14 [the date that wound up being Dawson-Tarver II] against Kessler. Kessler agreed to fight at 170, 171 or even 172 pounds but Gary Shaw rejected that even as we agreed to possibly fighting Dawson in his home state of Connecticut.

"About this time, Gary put out the statement that 'Dawson will fight anyone at 175 pounds.'"

The surprising offer?

"Promoter Mogens Palle offered, in writing, $4 million for Bernard Hopkins to come to Denmark in March 2009 to fight Kessler at a catch weight. Hopkins would take the $4 million with zero taxes in Denmark.

"Hopkins acted like this was an insult and Golden Boy made no counter-offer. Kessler would swim to the U.S. to fight Hopkins anywhere Bernard chooses."

It's big talk. You might take it only as spin. But this is the first we've really gotten to hear of the Kessler side on this matter. It's only fair that they get their say, too.

This story also cannot be presented fairly, I feel, without noting that Kessler is currently involved in a bit of a spat with Mogens and Bettina Palle, his promoters, over the direction of his career.

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