Harry Pratt

Froch lines up Kessler rematch for first title defense

altCarl Froch is moving fast.

Less than 24 hours after crushing Lucian Bute, the new IBF and now three-time super middleweight titleholder was busy setting up his first defense with Mikkel Kessler penciled in for a late summer or early autumn showdown.

Of course, the 34-year-old Nottingham superstar is enjoying being back in the limelight like never before. Only a few predicted he could become the first man to beat long-standing holder Bute at the weekend. But not even his most ardent of supporters expected him to finish off the Canada-based Romanian inside five rounds at the Nottingham FM Arena, with a truly stunning performance that has now guaranteed him legendary status at home – and beyond. He is only the fourth Brit to bag a hat-trick of world titles.

But if you think he is going to rest on his laurels, forget it. As mentioned, Froch, who would have quit had he lost to Bute, is right on the case of Kessler (45-2, 34 knockouts), a guy he likes a lot. Hence the Sunday phone call to the Dane, who fought at light heavyweight when beating Allan Green earlier this month, regarding the possibility of him dropping down to 168 pounds for an anticipated rematch.

Froch lost to Kessler in the Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament in April of 2010 before bouncing back to reach the final, where he went down in rather disappointing fashion to THE RING champion Andre Ward at the end of last year.

But while desperate to get revenge on 33-year-old Kessler, he is definitely not interested in setting the record straight against Ward, the WBC and WBA beltholder. Styles make decent fights and, for Froch, the undefeated American holds no appeal.

“I’ve just had a chat with Kessler. He phoned me up to congratulate me. I keep in touch with him, he’s a real good man and a gentleman,” said Froch (29-2, 21 KOs). “He was there last night supporting me. We spoke at length last week. I saw him ringside on Saturday and I’ve just spoken to him again now.

“We’ve talked about potentially fighting in September or October because I’d much rather fight Kessler than Andre Ward because Kessler’s a fighting man, a man of my own stature. He comes to fight. When you’ve got two warriors with so much respect for each other there is no love lost in the ring. You have respect for each other before and after, but in the ring you go in there and do it as warriors.”

During negotiations with Bute, Froch’s team agreed to a rematch in Canada. He says he would be happy to fulfill the obligation but revealed IBF regulations prevent that happening immediately. Froch also wonders if 32-year-old Bute (30-1, 24 KOs), having been beaten up so badly, would really risk suffering a repeat defeat. Indeed, Froch feels he may have ended Bute’s career – period.

“I think one of the rules when you get stopped, knocked out or suffer a TKO when defending your IBF title is that you can’t fight for it again in your next fight. So Bute will have to have a warm-up,” said Froch. “I’ll be given an opportunity to defend the title first and then, if he does want to execute the re-match clause, I’m happy to go to Canada and honour the contract.

“We had a handshake and I’m an honourable man. I’m happy to give him the chance to beat me in front of his own fans, to make it fair. But I honestly don’t think the guy’s going to want to fight again. And if he does, I can’t think he’ll want to against me.”

 

Photo / Scott Heavey-Getty Images Sport

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