The IBO light heavyweight championship – long the symbol of the truly elite at 175 pounds – is vacant.
Because of an inability to reach a sanctioning agreement with Bernard Hopkins prior to his May 21 fight with Jean Pascal at Bell Centre in Montreal, it was decided going in that a Pascal victory would mean the Haitian-turned-Canadian retained his belt, while a loss wound render the title vacant.
Pascal won the IBO title from consensus No. 1 light heavyweight Chad Dawson in August 2010, continuing a lineage from Roy Jones Jr. to Antonio Tarver to Glen Johnson to Dawson that dated back to 2000 and included some of the division’s signature fights.
Both Tarver-Johnson fights were solely sanctioned as world title bouts by the IBO, as were Tarver’s third match with Jones in October 2005 and Dawson’s rematch with Johnson in November 2009.
A fight between the two leading available contenders will be arranged as soon as possible, said IBO President Ed Levine.
Mikkel Kessler´s triumphant ring return was a huge hit on the TV markets. On Danish TV2, the Viking Warrior´s spectacular victory over tough Frenchman Mehdi Bouadla peaked at 1.137.000 viewers, which translates into a peak market share of 66 percent.
“That is truly an amazing figure and tells you all about the Viking Warrior´s popularity in Denmark,” promoter Kalle Sauerland said. “The 12,500 fans at PARKEN Stadium created a fantastic atmosphere. And to have two-thirds of the entire TV viewers tuning into Mikkel´s fight is simply sensational. Other than Mikkel, I cannot think of any other individual athlete in Europe who would generate such a massive interest and beat the national football team by a landslide.”
But it was not just Kessler´s fight which generated enormous attention. Danish middleweight hope Patrick Nielsen´s viewing figures were equally impressive. The unbeaten 20-year-old notched a peak market share of 45 percent. The Danish national football team, which played Iceland in a Euro 2012 qualification match on the same night, recorded a peak market share of just 19 percent. “Patrick´s viewing figures are phenomenal, too,” added Sauerland. “It is a clear indication about how much excitement and interest there is in boxing in Denmark. We are working hard to find the next Mikkel Kessler on our TV2 Fight Night shows and these viewing figures are very encouraging.”
Frederik Lauesen, Head of Sport at TV2, was more than pleased with the viewing figures. “It was a great night of boxing on TV2,” he said. “The viewing figures are fantastic and we are excited about the interest the fight has created. Furthermore, it was a great opportunity to give young talents such as Patrick Nielsen and Kasper Bruun huge exposure on national TV. This will be a another big boost for boxing and the TV2 Fight Nights.”
SHOWTIME and Sky Sports also showed Kessler´s comeback, which brought out celebrities such tennis ace Caroline Wozniacki, football legend Peter Schmeichel, star singer Pernille Rosendahl, top table tennis player Michael Maze and heavyweight legend Super Brian Nielsen.