Bonjour Sir D,
Before the first Carl Froch-Mikkel Kessler fight I could not stand Carl. The whole Calzaghe-baiting nonsense drove me crackers.
However, in the first fight with Kessler he actually won me over by frustrating me (bizarrely). I saw a real warrior who in my view would have won if he had applied just that little bit more pressure and followed up on his opportunities, rather than admiring his own handiwork and gazing at a stunned Mikkel. If open judges scoring had been used…….
In his next fight he put it all together and controlled Arthur Abraham. Against Andre Ward he came up technically short but was still hugely impressive and a UK fighter to be proud of who clearly belonged at the peak of the sport. In recent fights he has been the crazed Cobra unleashed.
On Saturday, I see an extended repeat of round one of Hagler vs Hearns with one minor difference – I think that level and ferocity will continue for around seven rounds – big punches, cuts, wobbles, loads of mutual respect and nods between the fighters, maybe even knocking each other down at the same time (Rocky II reference). Ultimately, my Bran Stark inner-eye sees Kessler walking into a big one early in Round 8 and collapsing out of sheer exhaustion. Carl will probably help him to his feet shortly before collapsing on his own stool.
All hail The Bible of Boxing. – Darren, Guernsey, Channel Islands
I hope your prophetic vision is indeed as strong as Lord Eddard and Lady Catelyn’s lad, Darren.
I’d love to watch an extended ring war that equals or even approaches Hagler-Hearns-level violence, precision and intensity. However, I don’t think we’re going to be treated to that kind of fight. Stylewise, Hagler-Hearns was the immovable object (the Marvelous One) vs. the irresistible force (the Hitman). Froch-Kessler isn’t that kind of matchup. Both super middleweights have power, but they aren’t punchers (and they’re certainly not in Hearns’ class). Both have aggressive streaks but they aren’t forward-marching technicians like Hagler.
Froch and Kessler are boxers. Froch is a bit unorthodox, and he’s definitely rugged, but he’s essentially a wily boxer. Kessler was a classic stand-up, jab and one-two boxer for many years, but under trainer Jimmy Montoya’s influence, the Dane has developed into more of combination puncher in recent years.
Their styles still mesh to make for a good fight as evidenced by their first bout, but we can’t expect them to explode on each other from the opening bell as Hagler and Hearns did 28 years ago.
I think we’ll get another distance bout with tomorrow’s rematch, and I believe it will be much like the first bout, only with more early rounds intensity and a faster start from Froch.
I agree that he admired his work a bit too much in the first bout. As the undefeated reigning WBC champ, I think Froch carried a sense of entitlement into that fight. He had the attitude that his challenger had to “take” his crown from him, even though he was in Kessler’s home territory. I believe losing that fight and then regaining the title (vs. Abraham) made Froch appreciate it more than he had when he was undefeated. Losing it again (to Andre Ward) and then winning the IBF belt (by knocking out Lucian Bute) has given Froch even more respect for the world title, along with newfound fame and respect at home.
It’s also boosted his already strong confidence sky high. I know Kessler won the first bout and he enters the bout with his own considerable skill, experience and confidence, but I think the Englishman is going to be very hard to beat tomorrow.
END OF THE LINE FOR THE VIKING WARRIOR?
Dougie! Hope you’re doing well and will get a chance to see the fight this upcoming weekend.
Me and a couple of viking supporters are heading out in the morning towards London to try and cheer the Danish champion to victory. Naturally, we’ll be checking out your mailbag as a warm up before the fight, so give us a shout out and let us know how you see this one going!
We’ve got good money on Kessler, but the bet was placed with heart rather than reason, and I honestly think this is the end of the line for Viking Warrior. Froch’s iron chin, supernatural tenacity, outlandish confidence and home turf advantage makes a Kessler win a very unlikely scenario in my mind. Despite his somewhat heavy hands, Mikkel is not going to knock him out, and any close rounds will surely go to Froch, considering the opposite was the case the last time out. Also, Kessler has been rocked (by Froch and Allan Green) and cut in some of his recent fights, and a tough battle of attrition might actually wear him down to a TKO defeat.
I like Froch, though (what a genuine badass), and had he been in with any other opponent, I’d have been rooting for him.
Assuming the loser retires, who do you see the winner take on next, depending on who brings home the belts? – Kasper from Denmark
First of all, big shout out to Kasper and the Viking hoard from Denmark that is in London to cheer on their brave warrior, Mikkel Kessler.
May the all-father Odin be with Kessler. May his left hook carry the power of Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir. May he possess the cunning of Loki.
OK, now that I’ve said all that, I can tell you that I honestly don’t believe that Kessler will need the blessing of Norse gods to beat Froch.
Your guy can fight. He was always a good boxer with a strong jab and sharp right hand, but now he’s cracking with his hook and even working the body well.
However, you are correct: Froch possesses “(an) iron chin, supernatural tenacity, outlandish confidence and home turf advantage” (well stated, Kasper!), and I do favor the Sheriff of Nottingham to win a decision.
I don’t think either fighter will retire after tomorrow’s showdown because I think the fight will be close and darn good. If Froch wins, as most expect him to, I think fans will clamor for a rubber match.
However, if the loser does retire, I think the obvious choice for the winner is RING super middleweight champ Andre Ward. Both Froch and Kessler have unfinished business with the undefeated American and I think HBO (which obviously has an interest in that bout – it’s the reason the U.S. cable giant is televising Froch-Kessler II) will contribute to the necessary financial incentive to make it happen.
Beyond Ward, I think both Froch and Kessler will look to finish out their careers at light heavyweight where the Immortal B-Hop, Chad Dawson and Nathan Cleverly eagerly await them.
KESSLER WILL KO FROCH
I agree that Kessler and Montoya have clicked as fighter and trainer. I agree that Kessler’s offense is more varied and that his left hook has become a dangerous weapon. I agree that Kessler has more pop on his best power shots than Froch does.
However, I’m not sure that Kessler’s chin is better than the Englishman’s. And I’m not sure if Kessler is necessarily a “better” fighter under Montoya. Yes, he beat Froch (barely) with Jimmy in his corner, but he was still boxing with his “old” style at that time. Since that fight, he’s only fought three times, against solid-but-not-elite opposition. So it’s hard to tell if Kessler has really improved since he fought Froch.
I know he’s more offense-minded, and he’s sitting down on his punches more, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s better.
I think it means that he’s going to help create some exciting, perhaps dramatic, moments during tomorrow’s rematch. I think he has the power to hurt Froch and he might do that, but I think Froch possesses amazing recuperative powers. He’s proven that in his slugfest with Jean Pascal, his first title defense against Jermain Taylor, and even in his losses to Kessler and Ward.
Kessler might catch Froch and it might look like the Brit is going to get knocked out, but I think Froch will bounce back. I also think Kessler will bounce back if he gets hurt.
These guys are experienced, world-class veterans; they know how to survive adversity. They’re going gut out a wobbly moment. They’re gonna get up if they are knocked down.
And if either man had a poor chin, I think somebody would have knocked him out by now.
But we’ll see what happens. If Kessler wins, I’ll be happy for him because so many boxing fans and pundits all but counted him out in this fight. And I’ll be happy for Jimmy Montoya, who doesn’t get his due for a trainer who has worked with so many champions over the decades.
HELLO FROM BELFAST
I haven’t been in touch for about a year, so I figured it was time to catch up.
I’m really looking forward to the Carl Froch-Mikkel Kessler rematch this weekend. My friend and I are making the trip from Belfast to London to see it and I don’t think we will be disappointed. The Cobra is never in a boring fight, and with the backing of us Brits I think he will have his revenge. That being said I anticipate a nervy fight that I’ll spend screaming at him in vain to keep his hands up and stop lunging with his punches!!
But my prediction is a win for Froch inside the distance. Kessler hasn’t exactly been mixing it with the elite since the narrow decision over Carl in Denmark, and I think his recent victories merely mask his decline. What’s your take?
After watching Lucas Matthysse destroy Lamont Peterson on Saturday night, I think those guys calling him out had better be careful what they wish for. Peterson is an elite-level fighter who I never thought would be obliterated like that. I give Danny Garcia a reasonable chance (if he can make Matthysse respect him) but I actually laughed out loud at Amir Khan claiming he would be happy to face the Argentine banger during an interview with Sky Sports after the fight. I think we both know how that ends. Who would you like to see Matthysse face next?
As for Devon Alexander; he beat a limited guy in Purdy, who took the fight on short notice because the opportunity was too good to pass up. Hard to get excited about. Maybe I’m just still bitter after sitting up all night to watch that dire fight he had with Tim Bradley a couple of years ago…
Keep up the good work. – Steven McDowell, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Nice to hear from you again, Steven. Don’t be a stranger!
I think Alexander can be in a good fight if he’s in with a world-class aggressor. Purdy was aggressive, but not world class. Alexander vs. Ruslan Provodnikov, Keith Thurman, the Andre Berto-Jesus Soto Karass winner, or the winner of the Kell Brook-Carson Jones rematch would be worth watching.
Alexander vs. pure boxers or one-dimensional punchers (Maidana, Bailey) generally won’t make for TV-friendly fights.
I think Matthysse + Khan = a KO of the Year for “The Machine,” but I don’t fault Amir at all for calling out the Argentine badass. He’s just being a fighter. He’s a world-class former titleholder who believes in himself and isn’t afraid of a challenge. I respect that.
Regarding who I want Matthysse to fight the most, I think Danny Garcia makes the most sense. Matty has earned a world title shot and Garcia, THE RING champ, is in need of a respect-demanding victory or fight.
Garcia-Matthysse is the fight Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer is trying to make (for Sept. 7) and I wish him luck in doing so. I think that showdown would add to an already good year of boxing and kick off the final quarter of 2013 in style.
I agree that Kessler hasn’t faced “elite” opposition since the first Froch fight but I don’t agree that his recent victories “merely mask his decline.” I think his victories against Mehdi Bouadla (TKO 6), Allan Green (KO 4) and Brian Magee (TKO 3) have made Kessler look like a power puncher, which might be a bit of a mirage, but I don’t think those fights have hidden a significant drop in his reflexes, technique or athletic prowess.
Physically speaking, I think Kessler is as strong and fast as he’s ever been. Technically speaking, I think he’s world class, but he’s more offense minded, which makes him a little more dangerous but also a little easier to hit.
QUALITY OF SPARRING
This weekend showcase between Mikkel Kessler vs Carl Froch should be a barn-burner and is a 50-50 fight IMO; but after reading the quality of sparring (Nathan Cleverly and George Groves) and the noise from the Froch camp regarding his countrymen, I am starting to believe even more so that Kessler will win 8 rounds to 4.
The Wild Card gym has been known to have real wars within those walls and the Mayweather gym recently been getting a lot of pub; and there’s of course the “I’m a Philly fighter” saying as well, but how much of that really matters?
I remember Oscar De La Hoya getting quality sparring from Edwin Valero and Victor Ortiz from one of his last fights (Mayweather?) and that didn’t really help much. Miguel Cotto doesn’t seem to get high level of sparring when he camps out in Orlando, FL. Paulie Malignaggi looks be to getting the right kind of sparring from Karim Mayfield and Stevie Forbes out on the west coast for his match-up against Adrian Broner so we will see how that works out for him. I know there’s two sides to every coin and I only brought up the negatives. (Maybe so I won’t be disappointed if Froch knocks out Kessler.)
How important is quality of sparring at the elite level of boxing? And do you have any recent gym wars to report?Peace-Out! – Frankie from the Bronx
I don’t have any recent gym wars to report, Frankie. Sadly, I’ve been out of the local gym scene for the past few months (something that will definitely change this summer starting with visits to the gyms were both Marcos Maidana and Josesito Lopez are training for their June 8 showdown).
Quality of sparring is very important at the elite level of the sport but “quality sparring” doesn’t always mean “name” fighters or world-ranked boxers. Often, “quality sparring” means fighters with the right styles or mental and physical attributes to mimic the strengths of the opponent the boxer in camp will face in the real fight.
By the way, De La Hoya sparred with Ortiz and Valero prior to the Pacquiao fight. The late Valero told me the night before that fight that he only went eight total rounds with the Golden Oldie during that camp and that he pretty much had his way with the faded super star the two times they shared the ring. He bet heavily on the Pac-monster to win by knockout.
I think it’s great that Kessler is sparring with two young guns in Cleverly and Groves. I think Cleverly’s busy rangy style is somewhat similar to Froch’s but the Welsh beltholder doesn’t have Froch’s smarts or experience. Nor does Groves, who is world-rated but still developing and learning.
My guess is that they received more from being in camp with Kessler than he did from sparring with them.
BIGGEST FIGHT OUT THERE
Dougie, I will keep brief. Forget Mayweathr v Pacman or Matthyse v Garcia. The biggest fight out there is Matthysse v Adrien Broner. Broner has a big mouth I would love to see him in a ring with Lucas Matthysse. Goodnight Vienna. – Mark
That would be a hell of a fight: a super puncher who has good technique vs. a super boxing talent who has good power. Broner would talk non-stop s__t during the promotional build up, while Matthysse would just smile (probably thinking about what will happen when he lands his first clean shot to the young man’s jaw).
Sadly, I don’t see this matchup taking place any time soon, if ever. If Broner beats Malignaggi (as most expect him to), I think the Cincinnati native will remain in the welterweight division. And, unfortunately, I can see him being pushed further up THE RING’s pound-for-pound ratings, as he’s added to the mythical rankings of other boxing writers, websites and publications.
Once that happens, Broner will become the latest “hypothetical champion” among message board/Twitter Nation fans who have a tendency toward “hugging,” if you know what I mean. By hypothetical champ, I mean that Broner’s fans and supporters will give him a pass for leap-frogging the 140-pound division. They’ll say he doesn’t need to drop down to junior welterweight because “would have” beat Matthysse, Garcia, Peterson, Khan, etc. – and I think it’s fine to have that opinion – but these boobs will give Broner credit for their opinions.
It’s what the old members of what Steve Kim called “Jonestown” did with their hero, Roy Jones Jr., when he was supposed to be the G.O.A.T. When Jones critics argued against his all-time great status because he skipped over too many worthy challenges at middleweight (McClellan, Jackson), super middleweight (Benn, Eubank, Collins, Liles) and light heavyweight (Michalczewski, Nunn), the Roy Boys said: “He would have beat all those guys anyway.”
Same deal with Mayweather now. His fans say he didn’t need to fight Casamayor, Freitas, Spadafora, Johnston, Dorin, Margarito, or Williams because he would have beat them anyway. In their world opinion = accomplishment.
You watch. The same crap will be uttered by the Broner Boys and Band Camp wannabes.
MATTHYSSE’S BEING OVER-APPRECIATED
Some experts IMO are quite over-appreciating Matthysse for his KO of Lamont Peterson and looking at him as a possible Floyd opponent in the future. I think they are being way ahead of themselves here. Yes, the guy’s got a very impressive KO percentage I give him that – but when you look at his 2 (debatable) losses – Judah & Alexander, experts seem to forget Matthysse wasn’t able to finish both.
IMO, if you can’t finish a faded Judah, it’s hard to fathom anyone catching Floyd enough to get him hurt. He may have that slim chance of catching Floyd ala-Mosley but I digress, Matthysse doesn’t have enough speed IMO. He punches wide and I don’t think he has the volume. Add to the fact that the guy will come from 140. I think it will be a Mayweather-Guerrero do over unless somehow Floyd slips by that time.
I’d like to see him unify the titles against Danny Garcia first and (in an IDEAL world where there’s no boxing politics) climb up to welter and impressively defeat 2 guys from the following: Bradley, Marquez, Guerrero, Pacquiao. Then we can go talk about fighting “Money.” For now, all Matthysse-Mayweather talk is premature IMO. – Julius
I don’t think experts or fans are over-appreciating Matthysse, the guy’s earned his respect with a string of impressive showings (including his two losses), but I agree that it’s way premature to talk about Matty challenging Mayweather.
He’s got unfinished business at 140 pounds. For all his accomplishments, he still doesn’t hold a single world title. If he can beat Garcia, he’ll get his heavy hands on THE RING belt plus two major titles. After that, Matty can toss his hat into the 147-pound mix where Golden Boy has a number of interesting tests waiting for him, including Robert Guerrero, former foe Devon Alexander, the Maidana-Lopez winner, the Berto-Soto Karass winner and the Malignaggi-Broner winner.
Those are all very interesting welterweight matchups for boxing’s latest action hero. And like you said, if he can beat two such welters he would make a case for a Mayweather challenge (although I agree that stylewise, Floyd is all wrong for Matty.)
Of course, we’re all assuming that Matthysse wants to go to welterweight. Should he earn champion status against Garcia, he might be content to stay at 140 pounds and defend his crown against the likes of Amir Khan, former foe Zab Judah, and unbeaten up-and-comers, such as Dierry Jean and Karim Mayfield.
Who knows? Garcia might beat him in a war. Or Matthysse might barely beat Garcia in a slugfest that calls for an immediate rematch. Their return bout might be awesome and call for a rubber match. Garcia-Matthysse could be this decade’s Gatti-Ward or Barrera-Morales trilogy.
Photos / Scott Heavey-Getty Images
Email Dougie at firstname.lastname@example.org