By Mogens Palle
Mikkel Kessler is a great boxer, no doubt.
I have promoted the sport in tiny Denmark for 52 years and Kessler may be the greatest Danish born fighter I have ever had.
But what kind of a man is Kessler? Is he all attitude and no gratitude? Is he a world class athlete who makes contractual deals and lives up to them?
Or is the so called “Viking Warrior” a man to whom a legal contract means nothing?
I’ve been biting my tongue for too long and now I want to set the record straight about Kessler, about the pirate promoter Sauerland Event and the pirate cable TV network Showtime.
I am sueing or will sue Kessler, Sauerland and Showtime. I will pursue my breach of contract and other legal claims against all of these parties and some others who have interfered with my existing and ongoing exclusive promotional contact with the WBA super middleweight champion.
Showtime’s Ken Hershman never called me about putting Kessler into the Super Six tournament that Showtime and other networks are financing.
Clearly, Hershman and Showtime purposely and knowingly interfered with my promotional contract when Sauerland got together with them.
It was only a couple of years ago that Hershman and Showtime CEO Matt Blank came to Denmark to sit down with me to discuss Kessler fighting on Showtime on a regular basis.
Let me explain the background here.
Kessler obligated himself to a three fight option agreement with my company, International Entertainment, ApS.
It is all written down in the contract that I have the exclusive right to promote three more Kessler bouts. Obviously those rights are extremely valuable.
But I am going to fight Kessler, Sauerland, Showtime and any others involved in such contractual interference in every court and in every country I need to.
It’s not only about money, it’s also about principle.
It’s about the sanctity of honoring contracts and fulfilling them to the letter.
With Sauerland, no promoter is safe from their plundering.
Imagine the howling and the lawsuits that would ensue if I or any other promoter seduced King Arthur Abraham or Nickolay Valuev, two world champions under contract to Sauerland?
Imagine the controversy, the furor and the massive lawsuits if someone interfered with Bob Arum’s contract with popular champion Manny Pacquiao. You don’t have to imagine that because rival Golden Boy did that and Arum and Top Rank sued them immediately.
I promoted Kessler for 10 years.
In that time, he has become a multimillionaire who is so incredibly wealthy that he abandoned Denmark to make Monaco his legal residence. Kessler may be a Danish sports hero but he does not pay taxes in his homeland.
How rich is Kessler, who has held the WBA title twice and once also had the WBC title belt?
It took me parts of four years to negotiate the deal with a tough promoter named Frank Warren but Kessler earned five million US dollars in one night and one fight against Joe Calzaghe.
Though he lost in a stirring contest, that remains the high point of Kessler’s career.
I hammered out that deal with promoter Warren and I arranged for HBO, a much bigger and more popular US network than is Showtime, to televise it. American fight experts were astounded that HBO would show a title bout between a Welshman and a Dane but they did so.
But Kessler did not get to the big international stage overnight.
Where was Sauerland when I was putting Kessler on in four round bouts?
Where was Sauerland, and for that matter interloper Showtime, when I was paying Kessler’s medical bills and other expenses in the many years in which his fights were not lucrative, when they were only a financial drain carried by my company?
Where was Sauerland when I surprised another tough promoter, Don King, by suggesting that Kessler substitute against WBA champion Manny Siaca Jr. when another one of my boxers, Dane Mads Larsen, had to pull out due to injury?
King knew nothing about Kessler and thought it was an easy payday in Denmark for he and Siaca.
I knew that Kessler, having been groomed expertly and having his buildup matches made against the right opponents at the right times, would take the world crown from the Puerto Rican boxer. And Kessler did that, fighting magnificently.
I then had to fight with Sauerland to make a title unification bout for Kessler against Marcus Beyer. Sauerland wanted that fight to be on theirs and Beyer’s turf, in Germany.
To make it more favorable and more comfortable for Kessler, I took some heavy financial losses, huge losses, to bring the fight to Copenhagen.
Again, Kessler fought magnificently but I did the fighting before the fight, the negotiating and went deep into my pockets to make the unification bout a reality.
I am not looking for thanks from Kessler for superbly building his career and making him a multimillionaire who can’t afford to live in high tax Denmark.
But I will vigorously and aggressively enforce my legal rights.
In boxing, the referee tells fighters to “protect themselves at all times.”
When Sauerland and the interfering TV network Showtime work together, all boxing promoters and managers are advised to do the same, to protect their contractual rights.
I am just doing what Showtime would do i f someone interfered with and ran off with one of their popular television shows, with any program they have legal rights to.
I wish Kessler continued success in the ring.
But, in a court of law in Denmark and in the United States, the contract that Kessler intelligent and freely signed and agreed to, will prevail.
Editor's Note: Manny Pacquiao signed a contract with Golden Boy Promotions, and then signed a contract with Top Rank. Golden Boy sued Top Rank and the two promotional outfits resolved the issue.