HBO Boxing Preview: Carl Froch vs. Mikkel Kessler
By: William Holmes
Saturday was supposed to be a split site double header for HBO with of the four combatants being possible set up for a shot or rematch with super middleweight kingpin Andre Ward. Mikkel Kessler and Carl Froch will engage in a rematch at the O2 Arena in London, England and Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal were supposed to meet in a light heavyweight bout at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada but a hand injury to Bute has forced that bout to be postponed.
Instead fight fans will only get to enjoy on fight on HBO on Saturday night and a chance for Froch to avenge his April 2010 Super Six tournament decision loss to Kessler in Kessler’s home country of Denmark.
This bout will have major implications in the super middleweight division since Froch is the IBF Super middleweight champion and Kessler is the WBA Super Middleweight champion.
The following is a preview of Saturday’s main event.
Mikkel Kessler (46-2) vs. Carl Froch (30-2); WBA/IBF Super Middleweight Unification
Carl “The Cobra” Froch last met Kessler in Kessler’s home turf but this time he’ll have his countrymen cheering him on in his own backyard. This is a big advantage for Carl Froch since many felt Kessler was given the decision in their last bout because it occurred in Denmark.
Kessler has a slight advantage over Froch in KO ratio, thirty five of Kessler’s fights have resulted in a KO or a TKO while twenty two of Froch’s fight have resulted in a stoppage. More telling is the fact that four of Kessler’s last five victories came by way of KO or TKO in comparison to two out of the last five bouts for Froch.
Froch does have a slight reach and height advantage on Kessler and is one year older. Unlike some European fighters both Froch and Kessler have fought in the United States and have fought some of the best throughout their entire careers.
Carl Froch began boxing as a child and won the ABA Middleweight titles as an amateur and a bronze medal at the 2001 World Amateur Boxing Championships. His first big victory was an 11th round KO over Brian MaGee in 2006, the same man Kessler defeated in August of last year for the WBA Super Middleweight title. After that fight Froch continued to face some of the top competition in the Super Middleweight division. He’s defeated the likes of Robin Reid, Jean Pascal, Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrell, Arthur Abraham, and Glen Johnson.
His biggest victory to date was a fifth round demolition of the then undefeated and possibly overhyped Lucian Bute in May of 2012. He was given a tune-up fight against Yusaf Mack six months later, but it was his stunning performance against Bute that really got the attention of the boxing media. He had just lost a closer than expected decision to Andre Ward in the finals of the Super Six tournament and many felt that Bute would easily dispose of Carl Froch. However, Froch’s beating of Bute was so definitive that Bute did not take advantage of the rematch clause he had in his contract with Froch.
Mikkel Kessler also competed as an amateur but not at the same world elite level as Carl Froch. He’s been boxing professionall since 1998 and originally competed as a junior middleweight. Even though Froch is older in years than Kessler, Kessler is significantly older in ring wear and tear.
Kessler’s first captured the WBA Super Middleweight title in 2004 with a stoppage of Manny Siaca and followed that up with a decision victory over Anthony Mundine in Mundine’s backyard of Australia. He continued to defend his title with victories over Markus Beyer and Librado Andrade until he got blitzed by the legendary Joe Calzaghe in a WBA/WBC/WBO Super Middleweight unification bout in November of 2007.
Kessler was able to recapture the WBA belt by defeating Dimitri Sartison in Denmark and continued to dominate until he ran into Andre Ward in 2009. He lost to Ward, in Ward’s hometown, by 11th round stoppage. Kessler has since rattled off four straight victories including Carl Froch, Allan Green, and Brian Magee.
When your only two losses are to Andre Ward and Joe Calzaghe, on their home turf, you have an impressive record.
Kessler was able to beat Froch in Denmark in a very close and exciting bout. There’s no reason to believe this bout will be any different. Froch however is still riding high from his “upset” victory over Bute and will have the support of the fans in attendance. English fight fans are known for being extremely loud and extremely passionate, and that will be the difference maker.
A victory for Froch might lead to a potential rematch with Andre Ward, except for this time the bout will be broadcast on HBO and not on Showtime.