- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Super middleweight titlist Mikkel Kessler of Denmark, training for his much-anticipated rematch with fellow titleholder Carl Froch of England on May 25 (HBO) at London’s 02 Arena, has an impressive lineup of sparring partners working with him.
Kessler is training in Copenhagen with light heavyweight titlist Nathan Cleverly (26-0, 12 KOs), super middleweight mandatory challenger George Groves (18-0, 14 KOs) and light heavyweight prospect Erik Skoglund (16-0, 9 KOs).
“It’s great to have them in Copenhagen,” Kessler said. “This is the best preparation I could have asked for. To have three guys like that -- a world champion, a youth world champion (Skoglund) and a top-ranked contender -- is probably as good as it gets in terms of sparring. They are young, hungry and unbeaten and they will push me to the limit. That’s exactly the kind of warm-up I need to beat Carl Froch again.”
Kessler (46-2, 35 KOs), 34, edged Froch (30-2, 22 KOs), 35, by unanimous decision in Denmark to win a version of the 168-pound world title in their first meeting in April 2010. That fight was part of the Super Six World Boxing Classic and was action-packed, the best battle of the tournament.
“Mikkel is the kind of fighter who always wants to test himself against the very best, no matter whether it’s training or the actual fight,” promoter Kalle Sauerland said. “Cleverly, Groves and Skoglund -- the fact that he wants to get it on with them in training really shows you what the ‘Viking Warrior’ is all about. When push comes to shove on May 25, the fighter with the better preparation will prevail, and that’s just another reason why Mikkel will leave the ring victorious.”