By Jake Donovan
Has Carl Froch’s sensational win over Lucian Bute presented false hope in his chances in this weekend’s rematch with Mikkel Kessler, or have their careers rapidly traveled in opposite directions?
The rule of thumb in competitive fights is that most tend to lean towards the winner in a wider verdict the second time around. Yet Mikkel Kessler finds himself the underdog as he travels to the O2 Arena in London for this weekend’s sequel with Froch, which airs live on HBO (Saturday, 6:00PM ET) and Sky Box Office.
Kessler (46-2, 35KO) bested Froch in their first fight in his native Denmark more than three years ago, but appears to have been the last great moment in his sensational career. Lingering injuries suffered in a technical decision loss to Andre Ward were further aggravated against Froch, forcing the great Dane to drop out of the remainder of the Super Six tournament.
He has since won three more to ride a four-fight win streak heading into this weekend’s super middleweight unification bout, including a highlight reel knockout over Allan Green. The irony in the moment – which many rated high among last year’s best knockouts – was that his being forced to climb off the canvas is what has spooked many experts heading into Saturday’s rematch.
Froch (30-2, 22KO) has won four of five since their first encounter, the lone other loss in his career coming against Ward in the Super Six finals. The brash Brit has been lauded for his incredibly high level of competition, boasting arguably the strongest resume of any fighter over the course of the past five years dating back to his vacant super middleweight title fight win over Jean Pascal.
A shocking 5th round blitzing of Lucian Bute exactly 52 weeks ago served notice that Froch still ranks high among the best super middleweights in the world. It also has many believing that at least one career loss will be avenged in the very near future, paving the road to attempt to even up the score against another past conqueror.
Will the action play out that way, or can Kessler dig deep to offer one last great performance and prove that he is in fact the leading candidate to Andre Ward’s super middleweight throne?
Read on to see how the staff at Boxingscene.com believes this weekend’s big fight will play out.
PREDICTIONS – MIKKEL KESSLER v. CARL FROCH (REMATCH)
“I like Carl Froch to avenge his close defeat with a unanimous decision victory. I think Froch has a lot more left in the tank than Kessler and will be spurred on by his hometown fans. Kessler will give his all which will produce some exciting moments but I expect the scorecards to favor Froch in the 117-111, 116-112 range.”
- Ryan Burton (Froch by decision)
“Haven’t really liked what I’ve seen from Kessler since his win over Froch three years ago. Conversely, I’ve absolutely loved what I’ve seen from Froch, even in his losing effort against Ward. I see Froch jumping out to an early lead and Kessler’s years of rehabbing injuries quickly catching up to him. Whether a cut or a badly swollen shut eye, Kessler is forced to call it a night prior to the ninth round.”
- Jake Donovan (Froch by mid-rounds stoppage)
“Froch UD 12. Though Kessler hasn’t lost in three fights since defeating Froch, it nonetheless feels like the Englishman is the one with the momentum. He’ll even the score at home in a rough contest that could end early thanks to free-flowing blood.”
- Lyle Fitzsimmons (Froch by decision)
“Froch by decision. As much as I like Kessler I think Froch has developed into a better overall fighter and will possess more assets to utilize than Kessler. I don't think it will be nearly as dramatic as their first fight, and may often times be boring, but overall Froch will be the better of the two and the one with his hand raised.”
- Ernie Gabion (Froch by decision)
“Froch has learned from his defeats and become a more complete fighter. Kessler has gotten older. He's still a quality fighter, but slower and less durable. And he cuts. TKO via ringside doctor stoppage due to cuts, round 11.”
- Richard Najdowski (Froch by late stoppage)
“I have to like Carl Froch in this rematch, although it should be another fine fight. I think 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.”
- Chris Robinson (Froch by decision)
“Froch Dec. Kessler: I see this going a lot like their first fight with home field a factor in close rounds. The potential could be there to stop the oft-injured Dane late. I suspect a third fight will look appealing at night's end.”
- Cliff Rold (Froch by decision)
“Froch UD. I felt Froch deserved the nod in their first encounter and I'm picking him to get an official victory in the rematch. It'll be a fun fight again but Froch will put the pedal to the medal from the get go and land the stronger cleaner shots throughout. I see Kessler having some success in a few rounds but Froch will control the fight and will manage to hurt Kessler in the process.”
- Luis Sandoval (Froch by decision)
“It'll be a relatively close fight, albeit Froch will look superior to the slowly aging Dane with or without judges' support. Kessler will look to fight in spurts and will be on even terms with the Brit during these short bursts. It will earn him a couple of rounds here and there but the rest belongs to the IBF champion. Expect knockdowns and 117-110 of wider - for the Cobra.”
- Alexey Sukachev (Froch by decision)
Totals: Carl Froch 9, Mikkel Kessler 0
Seven by decision, two by stoppage
The super middleweight rematch between Mikkel Kessler and Carl Froch airs live in a special late afternoon edition of HBO’s World Championship Boxing at 6:00PM ET. The card will replay later in the evening at 10:00PM ET/7:00PM PT.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox