I fear this story line could become a theme of the next few weeks as experienced promoters Mogens Palle (Kessler) and Frank Warren (Calzaghe) carefully manoeuvre their ‘pieces’ in a bid to gain the upper hand in negotiations, both privately and in the public’s perception, for the proposed clash between the two belt holders. Joe Calzaghe has changed his tune on his most desirable opponent once more following Jermaine Taylor’s soporific defence versus Cory Spinks last month, suddenly Mikkel Kessler is “the man”.
Duncan Bech, PA Sport summarises well for the Sporting Life the present situation, click here for his review. A fight of this magnitude, and it would unify all four major belts in the weight class for the first time after all, will always require or encourage tactical presentation of the facts by both parties. Despite the posturing, the bottom line is both fighters increasingly need each other to legitimise their standing; Kessler to emerge as an elite name in boxing and Calzaghe to further engrave his name in boxing history. Kessler has the luxury of time, in the sense he has youth and vigour on his side, but lacks the renown to justify marquee fights beyond his own division. It is only the dominance and reputation of Joe Calzaghe that drives the interest in the unification bout.
Calzaghe meanwhile, doesn’t have time – age and injury restrict his options – but he does bring the media interest to the bout and has options beyond 168 pounds. Hopkins, Wright, Taylor and Tarver are all fighters who recognise the purse Calzaghe could help generate. They’re cute enough to know it comes with a great deal of risk attached though, which has made bargaining hard and the fights elusive.
The landscape to these negotiations causes further complication. Frank Warren is presently negotiating a new contract with his broadcast partner, ITV. It is in his interest to have fight lined up that ITV will pay to show, the last two years of their agreement have delivered mixed results, from the excellence of Calzaghe v Lacy to the ridiculousness of Maccarinelli v Gunn – Warren has excelled and disappointed in equal measure.
He needs some juicy bait.