Robert Stieglitz, Mikkel Kessler to meet
Super middleweight titlist Robert Stieglitz of Germany will travel to former three-time titleholder Mikkel Kessler's hometown of Copenhagen, Denmark, to defend his 168-pound belt on Nov. 5, their promoters announced Tuesday.
The fighters and their handlers will hold a pair of news conferences Wednesday to make the formal announcement, a morning one in Berlin followed by an afternoon gathering at the host site, the 50,000-plus seat PARKEN Stadium in Copenhagen.
Difficult negotiations have been going on for months between SES Boxing promoter Ulf Steinforth, who represents Stieglitz, and Kalle Sauerland of Kessler promoter Sauerland Event, especially over where to stage the bout -- in Germany or Denmark. Finally, the sides came to an agreement this week.
"The negotiations with SES Boxing and Robert Stieglitz have been tough but now everything is in place," Sauerland said. "With the support of his ferocious Viking fans, I am sure that Mikkel will accomplish his goal and become world champion for a fourth time."
Showtime had hoped Kessler (44-2, 33 KOs), 32, who participated in the network's Super Six World Boxing Classic before dropping out because of an eye injury, would accept a deal to challenge titlist Lucian Bute on Nov. 5 in Bute's hometown of Montreal.
Kessler was ringside for Bute's 10th-round knockout of Brian Magee in Montreal on March 19 to scout Bute and to begin the promotion for the bout most expected to be signed. However, Kessler's team ultimately rejected the offer from the Bute camp and decided to turn its attention to Stieglitz.
Despite Bute-Kessler not coming to fruition, Showtime will likely televise Stieglitz-Kessler along with the network's live coverage of Bute's Nov. 5 fight against former light heavyweight champion Glen Johnson. The doubleheader would come one week following the Super Six final between titleholders Andre Ward and Carl Froch on Oct. 29, meaning six of the top super middleweights in the world will be fighting each other in the span of seven days.
Showtime spokesman Chris DeBlasio and Sauerland Events both told ESPN.com that the network and promotional company are discussing a deal.
Kessler outpointed Carl Froch in a rock 'em, sock 'em brawl April 2010 to claim a third title and dropped out of the tournament last summer because of the eye injury. But he returned to knock out Mehdi Bouadla in the sixth round in June, also at PARKEN Stadium.
"I have a lot of respect for Robert Stieglitz," Kessler said. "He has a very good record and he is a deserving world champion. But his reign will be over once we meet in the ring. Throughout my career, I have proven myself against the best fighters out there. I can't wait to be world champion again. Winning the title for a fourth time will be special. & I have never lost a fight in Denmark. It will be no different this time. It can promise my fans a hell of an evening with me leaving the ring as the winner."
Stieglitz (40-2, 23 KOs), 30, stopped Karoly Balzsay in the 11th round in August 2009 to claim his title and has made four defenses, although he has not faced the same caliber of competition as Kessler has.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.
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