Kessler vs. Froch
Mikkel Kessler is one of only two men to defeat Carl Froch. If he is going to do it again on Saturday (HBO, 6 p.m. ET), he will need to do it on the Cobra’s home turf in front of what is expected to be a raucous crowd at the O2 Arena in London. Their first fight, a unanimous decision win for Kessler, was in his native Denmark. After that victory, he made a promise that he has kept.
“I can say that in my first fight I promised Carl that if the fight should ever happen again I'm going to be on his home turf,” Kessler explained. “And I'm a man - a man of my word. And of course it's always dangerous too."
Kessler isn't kidding. He traveled to Wales in 2007 to face Joe Calzaghe, suffering a unanimous decision loss to the Welshman and his 55,000 fans. Yet, Kessler did find success in 2005 defending the WBA super middleweight title for the first time against Australian Anthony Mundine in front of a Sydney crowd 33,000 strong.
Both of the combatants have lost to the fighter nearly unanimously considered the best super middleweight in the world, Andre Ward. Whoever wins this bout will have the inside track at getting another crack at the pound-for-pound star. While Kessler says he would love to fight him again, his focus is on beating Froch.
Since losing to Kessler, Froch has pulled off some big victories, defeating Glen Johnson and Arthur Abraham to reach the final of the Super Six against Ward (Kessler pulled out of the tournament due to injury). Froch then handed Lucian Bute his first loss in emphatic fashion with a fifth round TKO. As a result of that success, he has been instilled with a new air of confidence. Kessler acknowledges this, but he believes there is still plenty there for him to exploit.
“He's still got the same mistakes and he's still awkward and, in his way, you know, that's his sparring style. But yet he's still got some flaws ... very bad ones. So you can't say it's a new style. It's just a more confident style.”
That does not mean Kessler expects it to be a walk in the park.
“He's difficult in a strange way - if you can say it like that. But now, you know, we've been training and we have (been) for three months for him and I'm fit and fast."
Kessler has 35 knockouts among his 46 wins and Froch has 22 in 30 victories, so an explosive fight is expected. However, the sturdy chins of both suggest we might be going the distance again. Kessler has never been stopped. He retired against Ward in the 11th round with an eye injury, one that nearly ended his career. With that experience in mind, he is grateful to simply be back in the ring.
“I thought my career was over when I had my eye injury. And it, you know, it puts some thoughts through your head, you know - is it really over, what can I do and when - especially last time when I hadn't boxed for a while. I had to show the people, and myself and, you know, I had to show them that I know I can do a lot better. And if I'd lost to Froch then I would've said okay, that's it, I'm finished boxing, you know. But I feel like I had so much experience I had to even try to a different trainer.”
Other than Ward, the only other blemish on Kessler’s record is Calzaghe, who retired undefeated and without giving him a rematch. That is one of the reasons he is fighting Froch again, when many feel there is not much of an upside for Kessler.
“You know what, I promised Carl that I would give him a rematch ... and here we are. And, of course, also talk about Joe Calzaghe, I never got a rematch. And he took off and I can remember - I just hope he will come back and take that rematch against me, but he didn't. Of course it's dangerous to give Carl a rematch, but, you know, I have something in me that I have to show the boxing fans around the world. I know it's going to be tough.”