When two warriors, championship warriors, go to battle and produce something not only competitive, but enthralling, who in their right mind would oppose an encore? Well, it has been 3 years since reigning IBF super middleweight world champion Carl Froch, 35, and WBA super middleweight world champion Mikkel Kessler, 34, have squared off against one another. So while it may be a long overdue grudge match, it has come to fruition at last. This time, with the stakes just as high, if not higher, than the two’s previous encounter.
Back in April of 2010, Carl Froch was the undefeated WBC super middleweight champion of the world. Froch was set to defend his championship and unblemished record against the decorated, yet just previously beaten in his previous bout, Mikkel Kessler. Kessler was coming off of a lop-sided defeat at the hands of the now universally recognized champion of the division, Andre Ward. After twelve back and forth captivating rounds fought by Kessler and Froch, Kessler was redeemed. Making Kessler a four-time world champion within the highly regarded super middleweight division. Froch, would no longer be undefeated, nor a world champion at that point in mid 2010.
Since the two mainstays atop the super middleweight division have crossed paths, Andre Ward, as said before, has become the division’s universally recognized champion. Mikkel Kessler, has remained unbeaten since his first affair with Froch, and has captured the WBA world championship as well. Froch has bounced back tremendously since his first defeat. Immediately after losing his WBC world championship to Kessler, he would recapture, defend, and lose the WBC world title throughout 2011. Beginning the year by winning the vacant WBC world championship against Arthur Abraham. Followed up by defeating former multiple time light heavyweight champion, Glen Johnson. Then relinquishing the WBC title in December of 2011 in a unification showdown with Andre Ward in Froch’s first lop-sided defeat.
Leading into Froch’s next big fight, which took place in May of 2012, against then undefeated and highly touted IBF super middleweight world champion, Lucian Bute. Froch was looked upon as a sizable underdog and, even to some, a stepping stone for Bute to build up a big money fight between Bute and Andre Ward. On that night Froch was no stepping stone. Instead he stomped Lucian Bute out, knocking Bute out in five. Carl Froch looked better than ever, and with both himself and Kessler having already suffered defeats to Ward, the stage had been set for the world’s other two best in the division to test each other’s merit in a sequel.
The first fight was a hard one to judge. Mikkel Kessler was fighting in his backyard, Denmark. And as the cliché goes in this sport of clichés: You have to knock a guy out in their hometown to even get a draw. To be fair to Kessler, many observers agreed with the judges ringside in having Kessler the winner. The margin by which two of the three had Kessler winning? Well, that is a different story entirely, but the correct man was awarded. The rematch this time however will be on Froch’s territory: London, U.K.
What gave Kessler the edge in the first encounter was his energy, enthusiasm, and will to redeem himself from his previous outing. Kessler had just suffered a one-sided decision defeat at the hands of Andre Ward. Had his first encounter with Froch were to have taken place before Kessler’s fight with Ward, Kessler would have been the favorite. Not Froch. All this seemingly mounted up into Kessler’s producing the best performance he has had in his career in years. With that in mind, the tables are now turned. Froch in this rematch is now somewhat the man Kessler was heading into the first fight. Froch has more on the line to redeem himself. He does not have Kessler’s scalp in his collection as Kessler does his, nor has Froch ever been a unified champion despite all the world titles he has captured. Kessler has being a unified champion marked down on his resume. If Froch can even the score, he can knock two birds out with one punch, accomplishment-wise.
Carl Froch did some things in that first fight with Kessler that are uncharacteristic of how he normally fights in championship fights. For one, Froch fought in spurts more than he fought a consistent three minutes of every round. Froch also gassed from time to time, and since that bout Froch has shown better conditioning. Froch also fought the wrong game plan, fighting too often off of his back foot against Kessler. Although Froch has improved with his jabbing a bit, and fighting going backwards, he does his best when he comes in using his strength and combinations. In a rematch with Kessler he can not allow Kessler to come forward and land with his pin point, precise shots, and stiff left jab. That will let Kessler dictate the pace and become comfortable. Kessler does not like fighting off the back foot, so getting Kessler to cover up in his turtle shell while unleashing combinations is what is going to work best for Froch. Froch can not be one-dimensional in doing this. That improved upon boxing skill, as previously mentioned, will have to be implemented as well but Froch will have to be more puncher-boxer than boxer-puncher Saturday night.
Tough, great fights like these are never easy to break down. These are the kind of fights that people love to see the “Pick-em” fights. We here at BRB are picking Carl Froch. Froch has the smarts to alter his game plan and has more momentum coming in despite the loss a year and a half ago to Ward. The level of opposition Froch has faced since 2010 is superior to that of Kessler’s. Going 1-1 in his stiffest test since, a loss to Ward, and stopping Bute. While Kessler’s toughest foe since was against under-achiever, Allan Green. And while Froch may be 35 to Kessler’s 34 in age, Kessler is the fighter with 16 more professional fights.
Look to see this fight play out in another competitive, exciting fashion. Only this time, in the second half of the fight when it is very close, Carl Froch will make the correct adjustment and step onto the gas to out fight Mikkel Kessler down the stretch to become the WBA-IBF unified champion of the world. Being in London this time instead of Denmark, should not hurt either.
BRB’s FINAL PREDICTION: CARL FROCH VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION.