Former four-time super middleweight titleholder Mikkel Kessler announced that he will continue to fight at a Wednesday press conference in his native Copenhagen, Denmark. The 35-year-old veteran had contemplated retirement.
"I've thought a lot about whether I should continue my career. I became a father, and I have a life outside of boxing that I really appreciate. I've got a special responsibility, so it was not a decision I took lightly. But I still feel I have something to prove," said Kessler, who lost his last fight, a unanimous decision to Carl Froch last May. Kessler won their first bout on April 2010 by decision.
"I hate to lose, and I lost my last fight against Carl Froch. Many thought that I would quit, but I owe it to myself and my fans to finish on top. My last performance showed that I still belong at the top and I know that my fans believe in me. I've talked with my team, the people around me, and they are ready to support me on the journey to become world champion again."
Nicknamed "The Viking Warrior," Kessler (46-3, 35 knockouts) has fought only five times outside his home country, including the loss to then-champ Joe Calzaghe by unanimous decision in Calzaghe’s hometown of Cardiff, Wales, in November 2007, and to current RING and WBA 168-pound titleholder Andre Ward in Ward’s hometown of Oakland, Calif., in November 2009.
"Mikkel proved in his last performance against Froch that he still belongs at the very top of the boxing world. He could have chosen to turn his back on the sport as he has won five world championship belts and financially he has earned very well," said promoter Kalle Sauerland.
"He is, however, a true fighter and is motivated through big fights. He still believes he has a point to prove and at his age and with his very conscious lifestyle he could still go on a while. His last performance certainly proves that he still has a lot to give. There are some great fights to be made."
Ward’s victory ended a streak of three straight stoppage wins by Kessler, whose previous setback had been against Calzaghe. In addition, in August 2010, Kessler had to pull out of the Super Six with an eye injury, canceling a bout for that September with Allan Green.
Kessler is 43-0 in Denmark, but was beaten in his last fight by Froch at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London. In their previous fight, Kessler dethroned Froch as WBC beltholder via unanimous decision in a bloody fight as part of Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic.
Before falling to Froch, Kessler had earned his fourth straight win and his third consecutive stoppage victory with a third-round knockout of Ireland’s Brian Magee in Herning, Denmark in December 2012. In defeating Magee, Kessler returned to Herning for the first time since beating Froch.
"I still have a desire for boxing. I still love to train, and I believe that I can become a world champion again," said Kessler, who wants to return to the ring October or November. "Now that I've made the decision, it's all in. I'm ready for all the big names out there."
In addition to Ward of Froch, Kessler said that he would entertain a bout with hard-punhcing WBA middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin. Froch has a May 31 rematch with George Groves, a previously unbeaten fighter who lost to Froch by ninth-round knockout in November after having floored Froch in the first round.
"Whether it's Ward, Golovkin or Groves, I'm ready. A third fight against Froch, why not? I'll be ready for that too," said Kessler.
"I'm not rusty, but it's been a while since I've boxed, so a fight in October or November would suit me best. At that point, I'd like to have a big fight. Like I said, it's all in now. There is no turning back and I believe that I can do it. You don't become world champion five times if you don't believe in yourself."