Carl Froch KO Mikkel Kessler: Though Mikkel Kessler edged their first encounter in a fight that could’ve gone either way, I think the two have gone in separate directions since that initial meeting. Carl Froch has fought the consistently tougher competitors, and outside of a loss to Andre Ward in the Super Six finals, has found a way to prevail each time.
Kessler has taken on lesser opposition in the time since, and shown at times that he may not be the fighter he was before that groundbreaking Showtime round robin began in 2009. Beatings at the hands of Andre Ward and Froch have Kessler a bit past it. In a 175 pound bout, he was dropped by Allan Green, though he stopped him a round or two later.
I think Froch has grown into one of the better finishers and has become a much more complete fighter since their 2010 bout while Kessler has maintained the same dimensions as he had three years ago. Froch will break Kessler down to the body and find a way to stop the Dane in the middle to late rounds, though Kessler will undoubtedly have his moments.
Record: 2-0 [Matthysse KO 6 Peterson]
Carl Froch UD 12 Mikkel Kessler: Too hard to call? Well, no. But as both men say it’s a 50-50 fight between two warriors. My only fear is the promised super-fight tear-up apparently one hundred per cent guaranteed this Saturday might not unfold in quite the way the pundits imagine. Especially, those in the UK being asked to tune in via Sky’s pay-per-view service — for the first title fight time since the Wladimir Klitschko-David Haye non-event.
Mikkel Kessler is a cagey individual, and from what he has been saying of late, will be a very different proposition from the one who overcame Carl Froch three years ago by a narrow if unanimous points decision. That suggests, the Dane will be not be diving headfirst into an all-out war. It may well take five or six rounds for this return to spark into action, with Froch likely to be frustrated by that comparative stand-off.
Yet “The Cobra” is also a better fighter now than when suffering the first loss of his career to Kessler in Denmark. Now, with the IBF title in the bag, the Englishman seems more mature inside and outside of the ring, and that is going to be key to him gaining revenge this weekend in London. As long as he bides his time and does not try to press the issue too soon, Froch will eventually get the fight he wants.
That’s when he will be able to step up the pace, and confirm himself his position as THE RING’s No. 1-rated super middleweight, second only to the magazine’s unbeaten 168-pound champ, Andre Ward. It will be close, but with home advantage and an 18,000 sell-out roaring him forward, I expect Froch to turn the tables on WBA regular holder Kessler and take a unanimous decision.
Record: 4-2 [Matthysse SD 12 Peterson]
Carl Froch UD 12 Mikkel Kessler: This is yet another in a series of evenly matched, difficult fights to pick. However, Carl Froch has looked like a possessed man on a mission in his last few fights, and I doubt Mikkel Kessler has enough to stop that train.
Remember, their first fight was very close and could have gone either way. Since then, Froch has improved significantly while Kessler has arguably stagnated. A win against Allan Green doesn’t count for much. Let’s say Froch wins a unanimous decision in a competitive but clear victory.
Record: 6-5 [Peterson W 12 Matthysse]
Carl Froch W 12 Mikkel Kessler: I have to like Carl Froch in this rematch, although it should be another fine fight. I think Mikkel Kessler has slowed down just a bit more than Froch, despite being a little younger.
Froch seems as focused as ever at this point in his career, and I expect him to stay busy enough to win a tight decision over Kessler.
Record: 7-3 [Matthysse W 12 Peterson]
Carl Froch W 12 Mikkel Kessler: I see this going a lot like their first fight with home field a factor in close rounds for Carl Froch over Mikkel Kessler.
The potential could be there for Froch to stop the oft-injured Dane late. I suspect a third fight will look appealing at night’s end.
Record: 6-5 [Matthysse KO Peterson]
Carl Froch W 12 Mikkel Kessler: This will always be a good, competitive matchup. But I think Carl Froch has progressed beyond Mikkel Kessler since their first fight.
The Englishman’s confidence is soaring, and he has the ability to back that up. Froch by a clear decision.
Record: 6-5 [Peterson UD 12 Matthysse]
Carl Froch W 12 Mikkel Kessler: Carl Froch gets the better of Mikkel Kessler this time, though I thought Froch beat Kessler the last time they fought. I don’t know how much either has left, but I anticipate a good fight.
Record: 8-3 [Matthysse KO 10 Peterson]
Carl Froch W 12 Mikkel Kessler: I will go with Carl Froch on this one. It just seems like it is his time much more than it is Mikkel Kessler’s time.
Froch is probably emotionally and physically still in the midst of his prime, and Kessler is not. I’m figuring on Froch winning a solid decision.
Record: 6-3 [Peterson W 12 Matthysse]
Carl Froch W 12 Mikkel Kessler: I see Carl Froch evening the score via decision. The fight being in Froch’s backyard is an advantage, but more so, I think the fact is that Froch, at 35, seems to be hitting his stride.
In fact, Froch may be fresher than Mikkel Kessler at 34. Kessler is still a smooth operator, but I see Froch’s cruder aggression being more impressive with the judges.
Record: 3-2 [Last pick: Mayweather UD 12 Guerrero]
Steve Stubbs, guest, Germantown, Md.
Carl Froch KO 5 Mikkel Kessler: I think it’s going to be Carl Froch. I just think that Froch is hungrier, and that Mikkel Kessler’s probably taken a little too much time off. I think that it’s going to result in a knockout, and I’m going to say it’s gonna happen in the fifth.
Carl Froch TKO 10 Mikkel Kessler: Two aging fighters in a revenge rematch — at least for Carl Froch, and this time, in Froch’s home country. Froch is a better fighter than he looked when he got his ash kicked — volcanic ash, that is — which disrupted his trip to Denmark to fight Mikkel Kessler three years ago — and better than he looked against Andre Ward a year and a half ago.
His career seems to be on the upswing. Both fighters lost to Ward. I thought Froch looked a little worse in his loss, but Kessler fought Ward nearly four years ago, when Ward had much less experience. These days, Froch seems to have a renewed will to win, and showed just how much last year when he destroyed undefeated Lucien Bute.
Froch is not as good a technical boxer as Kessler, but he has other superior skills, including an indestructible chin. Kessler says if he loses he will retire. Expect an announcement shortly after the fight.
Record: 5-5 [Peterson SD 12 Matthysse]
By the landslide margin of 20-1, all but one participating insider believes that Carl Froch will successfully defend his IBF super middleweight belt and avenge his loss by vanquishing Mikkel Kessler.
[Note: Martinez-Burgos was a draw, meaning all who selected otherwise received a loss]
Photo by Scott Heavey, Gettyimages
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com