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Monday, March 26, 2012
Mikkel Kessler to fight Allan Green

By Dan Rafael
ESPN.com

Former three-time super middleweight titlist Mikkel Kessler will return from his latest injury to face fellow former Super Six World Boxing Classic participant Allan Green on May 19 in Kessler's hometown of Copenhagen, Denmark, promoter Kalle Sauerland announced Monday.

Kessler will be moving up to the light heavyweight division for the bout, which will take place at Parken Stadium.

"We want Mikkel to cement his place in boxing history along the all-time greats by winning world titles in two weight classes," Sauerland said. "It is not going to be easy to face bigger and stronger opposition at a higher weight but the 'Viking Warrior' has never turned down a challenge. We are thrilled to provide him with a new, gigantic one."

Said Kessler, "This is going to be a huge challenge for me. Moving up to light heavyweight is risky, as is taking on a power-hitter like Green at a higher weight class. But I am ready. I want to make the big fights. Green is tough and strong and has a lot of power. But I will outbox and overpower him."

Sauerland hopes a victory could lead Kessler to an eventual title shot at the winner of the April 28 rematch between light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson.

"Before even thinking about Hopkins or Dawson, he needs to take out Allan Green, which is a high-risk fight," Sauerland said.

Kessler had been scheduled to face super middleweight titlist Robert Stieglitz last November but the fight was postponed until April 14 while Kessler nursed a serious right hand/finger injury. Then, when it became clear that Kessler would not be ready to fight then, Stieglitz agreed to face his mandatory challenger, George Groves, instead, while Kessler's return was pushed back until May to give the hand/finger injury more time to heal.

"My finger is fine now, it just needed more time to be fully recovered," Kessler said. "I am ready to rumble again."

So Kessler (44-2, 33 KOs) will face Green (31-3, 21 KOs) in a fight that once had been scheduled to take place in the third group stage of the Super Six tournament. However, Kessler withdrew from the November 2010 bout, as well as the tournament, because of an eye injury that he had suffered in his previous fight, a decision win against Carl Froch in the tournament's second stage.

Glen Johnson replaced Kessler and knocked out Green, 32, of Tulsa, Okla., in the eighth round to advance to the Super Six semifinals. Since then, Green has won both of his fights -- one as a cruiserweight and one as a light heavyweight -- against lesser competition.

"It's great to be fighting in Copenhagen," Green said. "I think Kessler is a very good fighter. Very tough and very talented. He has been world champion for a long time. But I am faster, I am stronger and I feel I have a lot more skills. He might have fought better opposition, I give him that, but I am the much better athlete."

After a 14-month layoff following the fight with Froch, Kessler, 33, returned in June and knocked out Mehdi Bouadla in the sixth round. But he injured his hand and has been out of action since.

"There is some unfinished business both men want to take care of," Sauerland said. "I am confident Mikkel will win. Green is a natural light heavyweight with huge punching power. His KO ratio is impressive. But with his legions of fans behind him, Mikkel will make his country proud and defeat Green."

Green complained when he was left out of the original Super Six lineup, but when he got the chance to join the field as an alternate to replace the injured Jermain Taylor, he showed nothing.

He lost every round of his first tournament fight to eventual champion Andre Ward and then was manhandled and knocked out by Johnson, who was a decade older.

"I think Allan should be better at the higher weight and as great as Mikkel Kessler's career has been, I don't think he's the same Mikkel Kessler as a few years ago, so I expect a competitive fight," Lou DiBella, Green's promoter, said.

Green said he has respect for Kessler but that fighting in at 175 pounds rather than struggling to make the 168-pound super middleweight limit will be to his advantage.

"It evens the playing field," he said. "At super middleweight I had to lose a lot of weight. I lost 27 pounds in three weeks for the Ward fight. So fighting Kessler at super middleweight would have been a disadvantage for me. I will make a lot of noise on May 19."