By Jake Donovan
It’s amazing how long the list of potential future opponents grows once you already have your next fight lined up.
Unbeaten light heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud is fresh off of a close though disputable points win over former champ Gabriel Campillo last month in Corpus Christi, Texas. The fight was granted as a one-time exception by the sanctioning body involved, with the promise that Cloud would next defend against his mandatory challenger, Karo Murat.
Cloud’s handlers went on record with Boxingscene.com last week confirming those very plans. So it came with a bit of surprise when they read the most recent remarks by Mikkel Kessler's promoter Kalle Sauerland, who – mere hours after Kessler pulled out of a planned title fight with Robert Steiglitz on Monday – said the Danish star is flirting with the idea of moving up to 175 and targeting Cloud for his next fight.
“It’s nice that he wants to fight us. It would be a great fight in the future,” noted Al Bonanni, the veteran trainer who guides Cloud’s career. “But we’re still moving forward with our mandatory challenger at this time. Don (King, Cloud’s promoter) is negotiating the fight as we speak.”
Kessler was originally scheduled to face Steiglitz last November, but was forced to withdraw due to a broken right hand suffered during training. The bout was rescheduled for April 14, but Kessler informed Steiglitz and his camp that his hand will still not heal in time to make that date, thus once again pulling the plug on his attempt at a third super middleweight title reign.
It is believed by the former champ that he will be fully recovered in time to fight in May. His handlers have Copenhagen, Denmark targeted as the location, anxious for it to be a big event and hoping to draw a fighter of Cloud’s status as his next opponent.
While Cloud doesn’t rule out the possibility, there are several hurdles in the way – on both sides.
“Right now, we’re locked into negotiations with (Murat),” Bonanni pointed out. “That’s the promise we made the IBF when we were allowed to face Campillo, that we’d next pursue our mandatory. Unless this guy is willing to step aside to allow us to fight someone like Kessler, we have to defend our title against the mandatory challenger.”
Even if everything could be worked out to move forward with this plan, stipulations might be required to guarantee that Kessler – who has fought just once in the past two years since pulling out of the Showtime Super Six World Boxing Classic – doesn’t once again leave everyone hanging.
“That’s something that Don would have to work out, if he were to pursue that fight,” Bonanni states. “If Don were promoting it, I’m sure he’d want assurances that it happens as planned.
“But right now it’s hardly worth talking about. In order to make that fight, we’d have to give up the title. If it were big enough financially, maybe we’d consider it. I’m not sure that the fight is, or that he’d fight us without a title on the line. It’s a great fight, though.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]