24 May 2013

Carl Froch vs. Mikkel Kessler Preview

Froch (left) will meet Kessler for the second time on Saturday

Three years ago in Denmark Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler engaged in a fierce and competitive battle over 12-rounds.

Kessler, coming off a technical decision loss to would-be king of the division, Andre Ward, Kessler's career was arguably on the line. A loss to Carl Froch that night would have left his career in the lurch; the big fights would not be as forthcoming with a defeat.

Indeed, had Kessler lost, he claimed that he would retire. That was how much it meant to him. Obviously, Kessler did not lose and, thus, did not retire. In winning he took not only Froch's WBC world super-middleweight title, but also his unbeaten record.

As the pair prepare to face one another for a second time on Saturday night in front of a sold out crowd at the O2 Arena in London the roles are some-what reversed.

The pressure is on Froch. He is fighting on UK soil and, after two back-to-back devastating knock-out wins over Lucian Bute and Yusaf Mack, the British public expects another. If not the knockout, then a convincing win will satisfy the masses.

Furthermore, a defeat for Froch will see the big fights pass him by. Light-heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins has voiced his desire to meet with Froch should he win, and a rematch with Andre Ward could also be on the horizon.

The first meeting was close and competitive, but Kessler was a deserving winner. Froch started a little too slowly and allowed Kessler to gain a healthy advantage on the cards before coming on strong down the stretch.

One figures Froch will not make the same mistake again. One figures he will try to get to Kessler early and set the tone for the fight. One also figures, that while Froch has to start fast, he must not be reckless in his approach. Mikkel Kessler is no Lucian Bute.

Froch was able to rush Bute and close the distance with alarming ease. Up close, Bute's defence fell to pieces and his return fire was non-existent. Kessler is no Floyd Mayweather when it comes to defence, but his return fire is powerful.

Should Froch attempt to get to Kessler with the same recklessness he did with Bute, the possibility of walking onto a straight right hand or left hook and finding himself on the canvas is very real.

Although Froch's desire to put on a performance for his fans will likely encourage him to make it the war the bloodthirsty crowd desire, we mustn't forget that Froch can also box from range if need be. It's an underrated characteristic of Froch's game.

For Kessler, he too must make sure of a fast start. The crowd will be lively, loud and hostile. Kessler must land something early to get Froch's attention and attempt to silence the crowd. If the crowd is silent, then Kessler is winning.

Kessler's jab, straight right hand and left hook combination is one that he has perfected over the years. It's simple in its form, but the way in which Kessler executes it is what makes it effective. His knockout of Allan Green was chilling.

In Kessler's last outing, a knockout win over Brian Magee, he displayed another offensive weapon: straight right hands to the body. However I'm not expecting there to be many body shots thrown in this fight, just like I don't expect Froch to box from range.

Both Froch and Kessler have had grueling fight schedule's against the top opposition in the sport. While Froch is the older man by a year at 35, the feeling is he is the fresher of the two. On Saturday night perhaps one of these fighters run of tough fights finally catches up with them.

Ultimately, both fighters are evenly matched and will make for a good fight. And if you're paying for the pay-per-view then you'll get your money's worth. There is just one missing piece to complete the full role reversal of the first fight, and that is a Froch victory.

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