Fight Pick & Preview - Kessler vs. Froch Rematch:
It's arguably the biggest fight of the year, and certainly the most eagerly awaited Super Middleweight fight in recent memory: the rematch between Carl "The Cobra Froch" and Mikkel "The Viking Warrior" Kessler. The first installment, as part of the Super Six Tournament, was a close fight that provided plenty of action, and there is no reason to expect the return bout to be any different.
This time the battle will take place in London's O2 Arena, before a strongly pro-Froch crowd on May 25th. Will it be repeat or revenge?
Carl Froch (30-2, 22 KOs)
- 6'1" tall, 75" reach, 35 years old
- #2 ranked fighter at 168 lbs
- Current IBF Super Middleweight Champion; former WBC, British, and Commonwealth Super Middleweight Champion
The division's iron man, Froch has won fan favor with his rugged boxing style and his willingness to fight anybody and everybody. He carries his hands low, relying on his toughness and offense for his defense. He can do that because he is very tough, very determined, strong, and one of the bigger punchers in the division.
However, Froch also has underrated boxing skills, and can jab and move quite ably when he wants to. He is far from being a one-dimensional brawler.
Mikkel Kessler (46-2, 35 KOs)
- 6'1" tall, 74" reach, 34 years old
- #3 ranked fighter at 168 lbs
- Current WBA Super Middleweight Champion; former three-time Super Middleweight Champion
You've read that right -- technically, Kessler is a four-time champion. His first reign was ended by Joe Calzaghe; his second by Andre Ward in the Super Six Tournament; his third began by taking Froch's WBC belt and ended with Kessler vacating it; his fourth began last December, when Kessler picked up his old belt, vacated by Ward.
Even though Kessler has lost his belt three times, he has only lost two fights, and then only to divisional top dogs who were also pound-for-pound contenders destined for greatness. The Viking Warrior is a big, strong boxer-puncher in the Continental style, albeit somewhat more fluid than the typically rigid, robotic European fighter. A more serious contender is hard to imagine.
Kessler vs. Froch II Analysis
As with any close rematch, the first question here is "what has changed?" Not much. One could argue that Froch is more confident and riding a wave of success, but Froch has always brought towering confidence and will to win into the ring. Kessler hasn't shown any signs of discouragement from the injuries he has sustained and been forced to recover from, and if he doesn't have a big win in recent years to boast of, he does own a victory over Froch.
Likewise, age isn't an obvious factor. Both boxers are in their mid-30s, both have seen plenty of action, and neither shows any significant, lasting ill-effects from it. Neither fighter has a record as a rematch fighter, so it is impossible to determine who might have learned and adjusted the most.
The one thing that is different is location. The last fight was close, and according to Froch the only reason Kessler won was that it took place in the Dane's backyard of Copenhagen. I don't agree with the Cobra on that one, but venue is an important factor to consider, and the rematch is on Froch's turf.
Kessler vs. Froch II Prediction
In my book, Kessler won the last fight because he had the better technique. His sounder boxing platform allowed him to blunt Froch's offense with a moderately better jab and substantially better point defense. That allowed Kessler to eek out an edge and bag more rounds.
Carl Froch can't do anything about that, as he really only plays boxer with swarmers and punchers. Against other boxers, Froch relies on his punching, with his skills limited to applying aggressiveness. So, I expect Kessler to out-box Froch again, albeit by a narrow margin.
However, Froch has won squeakers because of hometown advantage before. With a rabidly enthusiastic crowd on its feet, cheering their champion on (including Froch's comely wife Rachael Cordingley, who you can often hear yelling "Hit him, Carl!" from ringside), it's easy to see the homefield advantage neutralizing that moderate and very technical edge of Kessler's.
Prediction: Carl Froch SD12 Mikkel Kessler