Mikkel Kessler: ďI want the fans to know that Iím not afraid of Lucian Bute! Nobody wants to fight for free.ď
by Geoffrey Ciani (Exclusive Interview by Jenna J & Geoffrey Ciani) - Last weekís 140th edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio (brought to you by CWH Promotions) featured an exclusive interview with former two-time super middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler (44-2, 33 KOs) who is scheduled to challenge WBO champion Robert Stieglitz (40-2, 23 KOs) as he attempts to become a three-time champion. Kessler spoke about his upcoming fight and also shared opinions on various other matters, including Lucian Bute, the Super Six Final between Andre Ward and Carl Froch, Bernard Hopkins versus Chad Dawson, the Mayweather family feud, and more! Here is a complete transcript from that interview:
JENNA J: Letís move to our second guest of this weekís show. He is the former super middleweight champion of the world. He is ďThe Viking WarriorĒ. Weíre joined by Mikkel Kessler. Howís everything going today, Mikkel?
MIKKEL KESSLER: Everything is very good. Itís going forward. I feel good in my body and the training is going good.
JENNA: Well your training for an upcoming title fight against Robert Stieglitz. What do you think about your opponent?
KESSLER: Robert Stieglitz is a very tough fighter. Heís an intelligent fighter and a tough puncher. I donít have to underestimate him. He was world champion just after the Super Six began, so Iíve got a very hard fight in front of me. Of course heís a world champion, the WBO champion. Heís a very good fighter, but still, I know Iím better than him.
JENNA: Now are you working on anything in particular to prepare for his style?
KESSLER: Yes, of course I do but I canít say to you guys. He will probably know. I know I got to keep him away with my long arms and my reach. Heís going to try and come in close on me and heís going to try to put me under pressure, so I have to keep him away and use my technique.
JENNA: What things do you thing he does very well in the ring that could give you some problems?
KESSLER: Like keeping up the pressure all the time. If I let him control the fight I will have a big problem so thatís one of the things he does good. So donít let him in the fight at all, thatís very important.
JENNA: Okay now the fight with Robert Stieglitz came together because a potential fight with Lucian Bute, for whatever reason, did not. Can you tell the fans out there a little bit about the reasons why you guys chose Robert Stieglitz instead of Lucian Bute?
KESSLER: Yes, Lucian Bute gave us an offer that was like he was saying no to fight me. That was the main problem. I was over there watching his fight and I was ready for the fight, but of course you cannot fight for free if you know what I mean. So that was a big problem about that, so I was lucky to fight Robert Stieglitz after. I am very happy about that.
JENNA: A lot of fans have debated whether or not they gave you a legit offer and some people have rumored that you were offered $3 million. Was there any truth to that?
KESSLER: (laughs) No, not at all! I wish it was true! But we were far, far away from that amount. That was a big problem. It was like he was saying no to fight me if you understand what I mean. So I want the fans to know that Iím not afraid of Lucian Bute! Nobody wants to fight for free. Iím really ready to fight for the big belt. I know Iím not a champion any more right now, and you can claim a lot money for that, so Iíd be ready for less money but the offer we got was very bad.
JENNA: Alright well if you do win this fight with Robert Stieglitz you will be a champion again, and that will put you in a better negotiating position. Do you think thatís what you can obtain with this fight? That you can get a much bigger offer with Lucian Bute once you have a title of your own?
KESSLER: You know what? Right now Iím not even thinking about Lucian Bute. I would rather think about Robert Stieglitz. I want to take it one fight at a time. Robert Stieglitz is a world champion. I got to watch out if I want to be a world champion again for a third time. Iíd see myself as a bigger champ than ever. So Lucian Bute I donít think about so much. Iíd rather think about the winner of the Super Six. Lucian Bute is a great fighter. I have not a bad word at all, so Iím going to be excited to watch him against Glen Johnson.
JENNA: Youíre 32 years old now. How close to your prime do you think you are at this point? Do you still think youíre at your best?
KESSLER: Oh yes, of course! Of course I do! I learned to never take a fight if I donít trust myself, if I feel like I donít have my speed and power, and you know I still have a big feeling for boxing, and Iím ready to show the people that I can be in the Final of the Super Six and I could be the champ of the Super Six tournament. I have had the biggest fights already in the world, and Iím ready to show them Iíve had bad days. All of the fighters always have some bad days sometimes, and itís a shame I had them in the biggest fights. Iím very ready to show my fans all over the world that Iím going to be back and Iím going to be champion again, and Iím going to show them that I am the best fighter in the world.
JENNA: Well Mikkel, weíre also on the line with my Co-Host Geoff Ciani.
GEOFFREY CIANI: Hi Mikkel. Itís a pleasure to have you back on the show.
KESSLER: Okay. Thank you. Thank you very much.
CIANI: Mikkel, I wanted to ask you about your last fight in June against Mehdi Bouadla. That was your first fight in over a year and you had a very dominating performance. How did you feel after the long layoff?
KESSLER: I felt good because when you fight so many fights as I have in my career, I lost the year before. Of course it was because of the eye injury that I overcame. But you know what? I would be hungrier if I got the bigger fights, because I have so many fights now. So if I have to fight a guy thatís really nothing at all, then I cannot get myself up for the fight if you know what I mean. I wanted better fights than this. This is a championship fight. Itís a title fight so itís going to be better for me. I donít think about it that much. Itís one year off. I donít want to have a tune-up fight. I donít care about it. I want the best of the fighters in the world.
CIANI: Now you made reference to your eye issue a moment ago. Have there been any issues with that since youíve returned?
KESSLER: No. It has been very good. Everything has worked very good. I actually trained a lot after the Mehdi Bouadla fight. Everything is very good and the training is going very good now, better than ever. My trainer Jim Montoya says that heís never seen my stronger than I am now. Maybe one thing bad you could say about having a one year break is Iím been running and training a little bit, but I havenít been on the high level. So now Iíve been on the high level for almost six months now and I can feel that in my body, so next time Iím going to be very dangerous.
CIANI: You mentioned the Super Six a little while ago, and the Final is coming up in October in a fight between two guys you have faced: Andre Ward and Carl Froch. Given the fact that youíve been in the ring with both of these guys, how do you see that fight going down?
KESSLER: (laughs) Oh, itís a difficult fight like all the other Super Six fights. I would say that Carl Froch is a very, very strong fighter and he wants to fight with you. He wants to stand toe-to-toe and he wants to fight. I like those boxers. Andre Ward, heís a sneaky guy! He wants to have it his way, always on his home field, and heís a different fighter. He wants to ruin a fight instead of fighting. So of course Andre Ward is a great fighter. Heís a fast fighter. Froch is maybe not as fast, but heís good mentally in the ring. Heís strong and as you saw against Glen Johnson, heís getting stronger I think. Itís going to be a great fight and if Carl reads his homework well, I see him as the Super Six winner.
CIANI: Now you also said that you want to fight the big fights out there, and if you beat Robert Stieglitz there are going to be two directions that fans want to see you go in. Theyíre either going to want to see you fight Lucian Bute, or theyíre going to want to see you fight the winner of the Super Six. Iím curious, which direction would you prefer to go in if you are successful against Stieglitz?
KESSLER: (laughs) Oh, as I said before itís difficult to say. I just want a big fight. Lucian Bute, itís like he didnít want to fight me the last we asked. So maybe if I have a belt to negotiate he might want to fight me. But still with Andre Ward I would like to have a rematch against Andre Ward. You know of course I would! I know Iím a much better fighter than he is. If I have to go against Carl (laughs), Iím also ready for that! I know itís going to be a hard fight but I donít doubt myself. I think I could beat them all and one of the three guys could be a possibility. Now I just have to get rid of Robert Stieglitz first, as he is a big fight too in my career.
JENNA: Now Mikkel you said that youíre a much better fighter than Andre Ward, and you had a lot of struggles in the fight you had with him. What were those struggles in general with yourself, and what would you do differently if you had that opportunity for a rematch that would allow you to be successful?
KESSLER: I donít want to stand here and come up with bad excuses. I had a bad day, a very bad day! I wasnít there at the fight. Everything was bad. They said I had to go in five minutes, and it took them almost an hour since I had to go out of the dressing room. Everything was not my way: the judge, the referee, everything! Everything was just very bad. My trainer couldnít watch because of the camera man. He couldnít tell me anything. Everything went bad. Everything over there was very bad. I had a fight against Perdomo like 60 or 50 days before the fight. I had to train too much for that fight. I thought I was there, but when I came out I wasnít quick, I couldnít move, my reactions were very bad, and of course Iíve seen the fight a few times and I couldnít recognize myself at all. So that sounds like a big excuse, so of course I want a rematch to show also the American fans that thatís now who I am. You know. Thatís not the fighter I am.
JENNA: Alright well Mikkel, after Joe Clazaghe retired many people considered you to be the best super middleweight in the world. How much would you like to get the recognition back?
KESSLER: Oh very much, very much! (laughs) Thatís why Iím still so hungry for the boxing, because Iíve been so close so many times. Two times I have defeats in my career and those, of course, are bad defeats, but Iíve been so close to show them I am the best. Of course Iíve had some fights where when I was there and nobody could beat me. So I hope everything is going to go my way the next time.
JENNA: My Co-Host brought up before about Andre Ward and Carl Froch fighting each other, and just from your view looking on the outside, do you think either of those guys has improved since theyíve been in the ring with you?
KESSLER: Yes, of course. I actually think Carl Froch has improved again when he fought Glen Johsnon. He learned a lesson from his loss. Andre Ward of course learned a lot, too. Wardís fighting in the States all the time. He should probably learn to fight outside his country sometimes. But of course he is improving every fight, too. I hope he wants to fight Froch, and not have too many head-butts and holding. Thatís not what boxing fans want to watch.
CIANI: Mikkel, looking one division north at the light heavyweight division, there is a big fight coming up in October between Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson. Iím just curious if you would share your views on that fight?
KESSLER: (laughs) Oh! You know what? Every time you say that Hopkins got old and that he is finished, he will be back! Heís a scary man sometimes, but I think I would say that Hopkins is a super middleweight and Chad Dawson is more of a light heavyweight physically. But I really, really donít know whatís going to happen in that fight. If Hopkins is still as good as he was in his last fight, I would say Chad Dawsonís going to be in trouble, but I would say Chad Dawson is going to win that fight.
CIANI: Now the last time we had you on I asked if you had any plans of moving up to 175 and you said no, that 168 is your ideal weight. But if you were given an opportunity to fight a legend like Bernard Hopkins might you consider moving up or catching him at a catch weight north of 168.
KESSLER: Yes. Maybe. Of course! I would like to go down and fight Pacquiao, too! (laughs) We can meet in the middle! Of course everything is possible, always. If Hopkins wants to fight and I want to fight Hopkins, of course we can figure something out. You just have to know it in good time so you could build your body up in the weight.
JENNA: Alright well Mikkel, we just have a few more questions before we let you off the line and a lot of boxing fans are talking about a recent situation that happened on the 24/7 boxing series for the fight between Mayweather and Ortiz, and Mayweather got into an argument with his father. It was very heated and people have been talking about it a lot. Iím just curious from your perspective, how negative is that for a fighter to have a lot of out of ring turmoil before a big fight?
KESSLER: Thatís of course very bad. Your private matters have to be okay, because you can be a different fighter when you go out. If you have too much to think about itís very bad for you. You have to clear everything in your private life out, whether itís with your wife or your family. Of course everything has to be good. They have to understand you when you train, and your friends have to understand when you canít be there for them or for your family when youíre training for a big fight. So I would say itís very bad for a fighter to have an argument with his father. Of course.
JENNA: Alright well letís go back to yourself for a second. With this big fight here, I need to get your official prediction. How do you see the Robert Stieglitz versus Mikkel Kessler fight going down?
KESSLER: Of course Iím going to beat him to death. (laughs) No, I think itís going to be a very tough fight for me. Heís hungry. Heís won nine fights in a row and he wants to show the world now that heís one of the best fighters. I just saw him in a press conference, and you know what? I think he doesnít have the talent that I have and I think Iím going to win the fight. I always train for the twelve rounds, but if I read my homework right he should be out of there in the eighth or ninth, but of course you could always say a lot of things. I respect Robert. Heís a good fighter, but I think Iím a much better fighter.
JENNA: I have one final question Mikkel, and it involves your fans. Theyíve been waiting for awhile to see you hold a belt above your head. Is there anything you want to say to them?
KESSLER: Well Iím going to be back. As they saw me the last time, even if I have injuries Iím going to be back. Iím going to be the world champion, and I want to thank all of my fans for being there and supporting me through my injury. So thank you very much, and youíre going to see me with the WBO belt soon!
JENNA: Alright! Well Mikkel, itís been fantastic having you back on the show. We wish you all the best of luck in your fight with Robert Stieglitz.
KESSLER: Thank you very much. Take care.
CIANI: Thank you, Mikkel. Best of luck.
KESSLER: Okay, thank you man. Bye bye.
For those interested in listening to the Mikkel Kessler interview in its entirety, it begins approximately thirty-nine minutes into the program.
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Article posted on 06.09.2011
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