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Mikkel Kessler Pulls Out; Stieglitz Has Mandatory Challenger

by Charles Jay

We’ll have to wait a little longer for the comeback of Mikkel Kessler.

Kessler, who has fought only once in the last two years, will see his latest hiatus extended a bit after announcing today that he will not be available for his WBO super middleweight title challenge against Robert Stieglitz.

The bout, which had already sustained one postponement, was scheduled to take place on April 14 at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen. But as the date approached, it became apparent that Kessler was not going to be quite ready.

“As a boxer, my fists are my biggest weapon,” he said. “To fight and to win at the highest level, I need my hand to be fully recovered.”

He will be rescheduled to May 19 in Copenhagen, but it won’t be against Stieglitz. A new opponent will be announced next week.

As for Stieglitz, who won the WBO title in August 2009 and has defended successfully five times, it seems he’s got an opponent already.

Interestingly, the WBO, just a few days ago, had ordered a purse bid for a mandatory defense against George Groves, and SES Boxing, which is Stieglitz’s promoter, won that bid. Groves has to beat Kenny Anderson this Friday night, but for how long has it been known that Kessler was not fighting? Apparently no undercard had been settled upon, leading one to believe this had been contemplated for a while.

Kessler has lost just twice as a pro, and both of those defeats have come at the hands of unbeatens. Joe Calzaghe beat him on a decision back in November 2007, and he lost a technical decision to Andre Ward in the Showtime “Super Six'” tournament in November 2009, when his face was cut up enough (through unintentional butts from Ward) that he was considered unable to continue.

Kessler bounced back in that tournament to take the WBC 168-pound title from Carl Froch, in what may have been the most impressive performance of his career. But what wasn’t known at the time was that he had exacerbated the eye injury he had suffered when he fought Ward. That prompted a withdrawal from the Super Six and a break from boxing that lasted more than a year.

Last June he returned with a sixth-round TKO over Mehdi Bouadia, and was slated to fight Stieglitz on November 5, but then injured a finger in training and had to have surgery. Kessler has had seven different surgeries in his career related to his hands.

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