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Kessler fires Olsen, promotes Montoya

Somebody had to take the fall for Mikkel Kessler's lopsided 11-round technical decision loss to Andre Ward in November, and that casualty was trainer Ricard Olsen.

On Wednesday, the former super middleweight titleholder fired Olsen, who had been in the corner for every one of Kessler's fights since his pro debut in 1998.

Kessler was the big favorite against Ward, and the co-favorite with Arthur Abraham to win Showtime's Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament. But Ward, fighting in his hometown of Oakland, Calif., dominated Kessler in their opening round bout of the six-man tournament before an accidental head butt in the 10th round opened a cut over Kessler's right eye.

The wound was severe enough for referee Jack Reiss to stop the bout in the 11th round and send it to the scorecards, where Ward held a commanding 98-92, 98-92, 97-93 lead.

Kessler (42-2, 32 KOs) elevated assistant trainer Jimmy Montoya to head his training in preparation for an April 17 Super Six showdown with titlist Carl Froch (26-0, 20 KOs) of England. They will meet in Denmark in Group Stage 2 of the modified round-robin tournament.

"I really look forward to working with Jimmy," Kessler said. "Just like [Joe] Calzaghe, Ward managed to take my strengths away from me. Neither my corner nor I found any solutions during the fight. But I need to cope with this kind of situation, so I decided to make some changes. It was a very hard decision to part company with my dear friend Ricard Olsen, who has been in my corner in each and every fight of my career.

"Ricard made me the fighter I am today. Without him I would never have made it to this level. I owe him big time and will forever be in his debt for his great support."

Montoya has been around boxing for decades, working with numerous top fighters through the years, including Salvador Sanchez, Alexis Arguello and Hector Camacho Sr.

"The reason why I have decided to bring in new competences into the team is to try and look at the tactics from a new perspective," Kessler said. "Jimmy has been a part of my team before, as an assistant of Ricard, but never as the head trainer. He has a lifelong experience in the world of boxing and I am sure that he will be able to teach me new tactical dimensions and take me to the finals of the Super Six tournament."

Said Montoya, "It was not the real Mikkel Kessler that lost the fight against Ward. We will work hard in training camp to bring out the best in him again. He will be himself against Froch and put on a great performance to pave his way to success in the Super Six tournament."

Chris Meyer, the general Manager of Kessler promoter Sauerland Event, agreed with Kessler's decision to make a change.

"After the fight in Oakland, it was clear that changes had to be made," Meyer said. "We feel extremely optimistic about Jimmy and Mikkel. They are a great team. We have no doubts that Jimmy will help Mikkel back to success and glory, starting with a convincing victory against Froch and leading up all the way to the final of the Super Six tournament."

Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer.