Denmark's Mikkel Kessler (45-2, 34 KOs) is a three-time world super middleweight titlist with an impressive 9-2 record in world title bouts. Most recently, he captured the vacant WBC silver light heavyweight title with a brutal fourth round knockout of American, Allan Green in May.
"The Viking Warrior" could retire tomorrow with a solid legacy behind him and, possibly, a reasonable run at the Hall of Fame down the line.
Overall, Kessler has put together a long history of solid wins against Top Ten-level opposition, but some critics have also pointed out the fact that the popular European fighter has come up short when faced with the only two true elite-level opponents on his resume.
Kessler's decisive losses to Joe Calzaghe and Andre Ward could paint the picture of a fighter who is very good and deserving of respect on the main stage, but one who may be just a half step below those crossing over into the "greats" category.
On Monday, the 33-year-old announced that he would be extending his contract with promoter Kalle Sauerland until 2014, something that will give him at least two more years to establish himself as someone worthy of all-time great consideration.
The skill is there, the ability is present, and given the immense talent pool between super middleweight and light heavyweight, the opportunities will pop up.
In the past, however, Kessler has reacted to tough times by taking solace in the shallow end of the European talent pool and opting for paper titles won in the loving embrace of his home country fans. These are not the actions of an all-time great and definitely not the instincts of an elite Hall of Famer approaching his mid-30's.
If Kessler is serious about his legacy as a world presence rather than just a regional favorite, it would be to his benefit to target the winner of the upcoming Andre Ward-Chad Dawson bout. Then, perhaps, a run at some of the younger light heavyweight champs such as Beibut Shumenov and Nathan Cleverly or a rematch with Carl Froch. Even if none of these bouts pan out, the talent in the 168-175 lb. range is deep with names such as Tavoris Cloud, Bernard Hopkins, Lucian Bute, Kelly Pavlik, Robert Stieglitz, Andre Dirrell, and Gabriel Campillo leading the pack of legacy-definers.
The ball really is in The Viking Warrior's court and it all boils down to whether he wants to actually challenge his skills and abilities or simply travel down the road of least resistance.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and The BoxingTribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing
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