On May 25, the highly anticipated rematch between Mikkel Kessler and Carl Froch takes place at the opulent O2 Arena in London.
If the first meeting three years ago is anything to go by we can expect a barn burner between two fearless warriors. When they met previously, in the second round of Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament, the “Viking Warrior” won a hotly contested bout by scores of 115-113, 116-112 and 117-111, handing Froch his first pro loss.
Since then both fighters have won other world titles, with Kessler putting his WBA “regular” title on the line while Froch looks to defend his IBF title for the second time.
A pro for over 15 years after having gone 44-3 as an amateur, Kessler is a three-time WBC and two-time WBA beltholder, who holds a 46-2 (35 KOs) record, with both loses taking place on the road against Joe Calzaghe and Andre Ward, the only stains on his otherwise impressive 10-2 ledger in world title fights.
Throughout his career Kessler has always been well supported in Denmark where most of his fighters take place on pay per view. The last time he fought on free television was in June 2011 when he met Mehdi Bouadla, a bout that garnered 66 percent of the market share during the fight.
Previously he took on Gusmyr Perdomo where the viewing peeked at a very impressive 72 percent.
Last year Kessler won both his fights, the first of which was a “KO of the Year” candidate when he landed a picture perfect left hook that knocked Allan Green out before he hit the canvas.
In the run up to the rematch with Froch, Kessler took part in this rather odd commercial for the fight.
Ahead of the Froch fight, which this time takes place on HBO and SKY Sports Box Office (the first pay-per-view fight in Britain since David Haye fought Wladimir Klitschko in 2011), Kessler took time out to speak with RingTV.com.
Anson Wainwright: You have a huge fight coming up with Carl Froch, what are your thoughts on the rematch?
Mikkel Kessler: Right now I think the fight between Carl and me is the most exciting one (at super middleweight). That’s the one fight every fan wants to see because you know there will be action. It will be a war from the first bell, no clinching, no holding… we’re both coming to fight!
AW: Having shared a ring with him you know each other well. When you break him down as a fighter, can you talk about what you see in terms of how he fights; his strengths and weaknesses without giving too much away ahead of your fight?
MK: Well, he really has long arms. When I fought him three years ago, I was amazed by that. I thought “Wow, he’s got a very big reach.” And he punches very hard; he has a lot of power, but it won’t help him on May 25.
AW: The fight takes place in London at the state of the art O2 Arena. What are your thoughts on fighting him in England? He’s very determined not to lose again, both his loses have taken place outside of Britain?
MK: We have both fought all over the world. That’s what champions do, fight the best everywhere. He came to Denmark, now I give him the rematch in his country. That’s only fair.
AW: It’s kind of funny because Froch’s father is of Polish/English heritage and your mother is English, so had things been a little different you could have been the home fighter?
MK: That’s a good one! I’ve joked before that I am more British than he is…but jokes aside, I am a Viking. I am Danish and I will make my country very proud on May 25… although I think a lot of British fans will root for me, too.
AW: Could you tell us about your training camp?
MK: I have a great team around me with my trainer Jimmy Montoya, my physical trainer Thomas Macon, my manager Allan Back and my promoter Team Sauerland. I have my own gym in Copenhagen where I do all the training and the sparring. Right now (George) Groves, (Nathan) Cleverly and (Erik) Skoglund – three unbeaten and hungry youngsters – are over for sparring. That’s very good.
AW: Let’s talk about each of your previous fights, you were able to gain a measure of revenge for some of your countrymen beating Brian Magee, while Carl cleared the way to fight you beating Yusef Mack?
MK: Magee is a tough guy; he is difficult to break, so I was pleased with my win. Carl also got a good victory. We’re both ready for May 25.
AW: You’ve been in with some terrific fighters throughout your career, but who would you say was the best overall? What was the biggest occasion?
MK: I don’t compare opponents because every fighter is special in his own way. I’ve been in many big fights, but I will never forget the feeling when I became world champion for the first time. Also, beating Froch in Herning felt pretty good, too.
AW: What are your thoughts on the super middleweight division as a whole?
MK: It’s an exciting division with lots of talent.
There are always lots of things going on at super middleweight. (Arthur) Abraham looked like the favourite to beat (Robert) Stieglitz, who got a spectacular win. Groves is a big talent, let’s see where he can go… and Ward, though I don’t think he’ll ever fight outside his country.
AW: Tell us about your life away from boxing?
MK: Right now, boxing is my life. But of course I have to clear my head and relax in my spare time when I spend time with my friends and family… or my dog, John.
AW: Finally, do you have a message for Carl Froch?
MK: You better be ready, Carl! I’ll beat you again!
Photos / Scott heavey-Getty Images, Martin Rose-Bongarts, AFP