London is preparing for a massive sports weekend with the Champions League Final and a super middleweight title fight between British star Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler of Denmark, one of only two men who was defeated him.
Almost exactly one year ago, Froch fought undefeated Lucian Bute in front of a raucous crowd of 9,000 at Nottingham Arena and scored a fifth round technical knockout. That performance propelled him to a new level of fame in his home country and with 18,000 expected at the O2 Arena on Saturday (HBO, 6 p.m. ET), the stakes have been raised again.
“It’s going to be a fantastic weekend and, I mean, the fight with myself and Mikkel Kessler is going to be big,” Froch says. “It’s going to be a good fight. It’s going to be what everyone looks back on in years to come and (says) remember that one – that was a cracker. That is a proper big fight between two warriors that leave it all in the ring. I’m excited to be a part of and involved in it all.”
The last time he fought Kessler, Froch lost a decision he feels he would have gotten had he not been on hostile turf in Denmark. Kessler promised him a rematch in the U.K. and lived up to his word. While Froch says the mindset and the game plan must remain the same, he admits having the support of the fans provides a mental edge.
“Being at home affects you in a positive way because you’re rewarded for the work you do. So, I think the home-crowd advantage in boxing is an advantage. And I’m going to relish in that and take that, you know, with a positive on the night, because when I’m letting my shots go and landing, and backing him up, the crowd will be erupting and going crazy as opposed to hearing a pin drop.”
Froch and Kessler share a lot of similarities in style, both in and out of the ring. Both have the power to end fights, Kessler has 35 knockouts among his 46 wins and Froch has 22 in 30 victories. Both also choose to let their fists do the talking, especially in this fight, where there is a mutual respect that has become rare at this level of boxing.
“That’s because we’ve shared the ring for 12 fantastic rounds,” Froch explains, “and we don’t talk rubbish outside the ring about each other. I think that the very fact that we’re both fighters and we’re both manly men, and we’re both honest, genuine, down to earth people, which is what we are.”
That said, when the opening bell rings, both Kessler and Froch know they will be standing in front of a world-class fighter with the power to punish and hurt their opponent at any time. And in what should be one of the best atmospheres of any fight this year, will it be Froch’s revenge in front of his home fans, or will Kessler prove the last win was anything but home cooking?
“You know, this could make for a dangerous night for both of us, you know, it’s going to be vicious, it’s going to be brutal, it’s going to be – it’s going to be getting nasty in there but there’s no real hatred, it’s just in the love – in the name of a good honest working class sport called boxing, the sport I love," Froch said.