On 24 April 2010 the second round of fights continue in the Super 6 Super Middleweight tournament, with a Battle-of-Europe style clash between WBC champion Carl Froch and challenger Mikkel Kessler. On the line will be Froch’s title and of course more points: Froch currently has 2 while Kessler is on zero. Froch is coming off a successful defence against the previously undefeated Andre Dirrell in a fight that was very boring to watch, while Kessler was schooled by another undefeated American in Andre Ward.
Froch scraped through against the negative Andre Dirrell, in what was a fight devoid of action and punches landed. But the judges viewed and awarded his more aggressive style (I saw it the same), and pray there is never a rematch.
Kessler, who came into the tournament as favourite, was surprisingly easily beaten by Andre Ward. Granted, Kessler had cause to complain about the head butts, he was on the end of, but they weren’t the reason he was defeated – his timing and even ambition seemed lost while Ward looked brilliant in getting his fast shots off. Some say fighting away from home affected the Dane but he’s done that before and looked good. (Against Joe Calzaghe in Wales and Anthony Mundine in Australia)
This time Mikkel has home advantage and while his opponent has been happy to travel to Denmark, despite being the WBC champion, there has been some disagreement over the venue, or rather the location. Carl Froch and his camp quite rightly wanted the fight in the Danish Capital Copenhagen, which is pretty straightforward for his travelling British supporters to get to, while the Kessler camp wanted the fight in the more remote city of Herning. The Kessler camp got their way. It is to Carl Froch’s credit that, once again, he is in a title fight in his opponents ‘backyard’ and the old adage “Have gloves will travel” seems apt.
Boxing often throws up intangibles before a fight and this match-up is no different. Many questions still remain to be answered:- In the case of the challenger Mikkel Kessler (42-2, 32 KO) we will be tuning in, via Showtime (US) or PrimeTimeTV (Uk) , to see if his last fight was just a ‘bad day at the office’ or the sign that his powers are on the wane. He certainly looked out of sorts against Andre Ward and since the defeat to Joe Calzaghe in 2007 his career has stalled somewhat with promotional wrangles.
In Carl Froch (26-0, 20 KO) we have to wonder whether he has the skills to compete with a ’Peak’ Kessler after he looked devoid of answers against the quicker Andre Dirrell, indeed he seemed incapable of cutting off the ring and even when he did get close to his elusive opponent, he failed to land anything significant for the most part. The main slight against the undefeated Englishman, is that his defence is poor and the evidence of the Pascal, Taylor and Dirrell fights is there for all to see. It’s fortunate for him that he has such a solid chin to be able to get away with his defensive frailties. Neither fighter is the quickest of foot though both posses sound technical ability, if abit rigid at times. Power wise I think they are pretty evenly matched and both have solid chins.
If we were talking about a match-up of the Kessler from two years ago and Carl Froch of today then I would pick the Dane to win on points, but after Kessler’s last few performances I don’t think that fighter exists anymore. While it will still take a lot to KO him, I can see Carl just edging a close but deserved points decision in Herning. I think it will be a tense opening few rounds that will ignite with ‘fireworks’ at points in the bout. If Kessler can stay composed and just use his boxing skills, then he can win the rounds but I don’t think his body will do the things his mind wants to. For Carl Froch the victory will mean a place in the semi-finals (regardless of the result in the final bout) of the tournament, and another decent name on the resume after Jean Pascal, Jermain Taylor and Andre Dirrell.
Carl Froch doesn’t do things the easy way but this time his timing couldn’t be better.
Verdict: Carl Froch WUD12th