Mikkel Kessler, “The Viking Warrior” was born March 1st 1979. Though he started boxing at the age of 13, he only competed as an amateur for three years. During his amateur years, Kessler finished with a 44-3 record winning the Danish Championship five times and also winning the Norwegian Championship and the Scandinavian Championship.
Turning professional in 1998 as a junior middleweight, Kessler won his first 29 bouts (22 by knockout) before winning his first world championship, the vacant IBA super middleweight title against Dingaan Thobela in Copenhagen. In his very next fight also in Copenhagen, he’d add the WBC International Super Middleweight title to his credentials. In his 35th bout Kessler would gain another championship stopping many Siaca in seven rounds to win the WBA Super Middleweight title.
Though he was wildly popular in his homeland, Kessler was little known outside Denmark except to hardcore boxing fans. He’d get his first big exposure on U.S. television when HBO broadcast his one sided unanimous decision win over Librado Andrade, a fight that was primarily a set up for a unification bout with the WBO & Ring Magazine Super Middleweight titlist from Wales, Joe Calzaghe.
Though he did well early in the bout, Calzaghe was too fast for Kessler and won the bout via unanimous decision unifying the WBA, WBC, WBO & the Ring Super Middleweight titles. It was the Danes first loss in 40 professional bouts. Kessler would return to Denmark and regain the now vacant WBA Super Middleweight title with a 12th round stoppage of Dimitri Sartison.
Following two knockout victories over Danilo Haussler and Gusmyer Perdomo, Kessler would take part in Showtime’s “Super Six” boxing tournament. The “Super Six” was a round robin style tournament putting six of the worlds top super middleweights in the mix against one another with Kessler being one of the fighters heavily favored to win it all.
Bringing his WBA title to the tournament, Kessler would first meet U.S. Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward in his first bout of the tournament. Just as in the Calzaghe bout, speed and lateral movement proved difficult for Kessler to deal with and Ward dominated the fight. Though Mikkel would land some solid punches he never had control of the bout or had Ward hurt at any time. The bout was stopped in the 11th round due to cuts suffered by Kessler caused by unintentional head butts. A technical decision for Ward left Kessler with his second pro loss and no world title.
After changing trainers, Kessler would return in the second round of the “Super Six” tournament to win a close tough bout against England’s Carl Froch. Winning Frochs’ WBC Super Middleweight title would make Kessler a three time World Champion.
Kessler withdrew from the “Super Six” tournament four months later citing an eye injury and double vision as the reason. He claims to have initially sustained the injury in his bout with Andre Ward, only to have it worsen through sparring and his fight against Carl Froch.
After nine months of inactivity, the Kessler camp announced that Mikkel was looking to return to action in June of 2011. An offer to WBO Super Middleweight champion Robert Stieglitz was on the table but no formal talks have taken place and Kessler is still awaiting medical clearance.
Kessler’s record, as of February 3rd, 2011 is: 43-2 with 32 KOs.
— Fights well from the outside, has an excellent “one-two” combination and a good uppercut.
— Good hand speed, good ability to put pressure on opponents once he establishes command of the fight.
— Inability to adjust strategy during the course of a bout; has trouble dealing with opponents with advantage in hand and foot speed.
–Tendency to fade in fights once he loses control.
— Lacks international experience, has only fought outside Denmark five times, losing twice in a 45 fight career.
Kessler is still considered a top 3 or 4 super middleweight, but his popularity in his own country may work to keep him as a regional draw, fighting a low-level of opposition.