Mikkel Kessler concerned about new breed of Floyd Mayweather-influenced fighter

Mikkel Kessler fears that today’s young fighters lack the “mentality” to fulfil their potential.

The Dane is training, among others, the promising Oliver Zaren, but in many of the other young fighters he has worked with he has witnessed nerves that undermine their ability to perform.

It is more than 10 years since the 44-year-old Kessler last fought, when narrowly losing to Carl Froch. During the course of a fine career he also became the first to defeat Froch, and fought the best of two separate eras in Joe Calzaghe and Andre Ward.

Much of Kessler’s reputation, like that of Froch, was built on his willingness to fight his most dangerous possible opponents, but at a time when Frank Martin has avoided fighting Shakur Stevenson, Joshua Buatsi has resisted challenging Dmitrii Bivol, and footage of Roy Jones Jr attempting to motivate the uncertain-but-talented Jared Anderson has been circulated, Kessler is wary of what the future might hold.

Kessler’s peak narrowly preceded that of Floyd Mayweather, who from a position of strength also placed a perhaps unhealthy emphasis on remaining undefeated, and the one-time super middleweight said: “The one thing that’s a big problem for them [young fighters] is their mentality. I can see it in so many. They are so afraid of this and afraid of that. ‘I’m so nervous.’ 

“I tell them, ‘You have to be nervous – no fighter will ever go into that ring not being nervous. If people are saying they’re not nervous, they’re lying. You have to be nervous and you have to use it in the right way’. Instead of throwing too many punches and then being tired after two rounds – Oliver [Zaren] did that. 

“That’s a big problem for the young guys today. They see too much [of Floyd] Mayweather fight, and they want to be like that, but when the bell rings it’s different for them. 

“Promoters don’t want to invest in them too much. They want to match big fights too early. [Young fighters] are so nervous and you have to be a psychologist before they fight.”

In retirement Kessler also trains those without ambitions to fight, and educates them about how to live healthily, while leaning on the methods of his former trainers Richard Olsen and Jimmy Montoya.

“I have a lot of Richard Olsen and I’ve a lot of Jimmy Montoya,” he continued. “Richard Olsen was like a second dad for me sometimes. I could talk about things I couldn’t tell my dad. He learned me a lot of good fighting. He was also always ready to learn from other trainers, and I liked that about him. 

“He was not, ‘This I say, this you will do and that’s just how it is’, like all the other boxing trainers are. He was open for new stuff, and so if I had been on a training camp with Jimmy Montoya, ‘Okay, what did he learn you?’ ‘He learned me this and this and this.’ ‘Okay, let’s do that.’”