By Jake Donovan
If their pre-fight comments were to be taken to heart, then retirement was on the table for the losing fighter in Saturday’s rematch between Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler.
After 12 fiercely contested rounds, Froch escaped with a well-earned unanimous decision to avenge one of two career losses. The Brit traveled to Denmark for their first fight three years ago, dropping a heartbreaking decision to Kessler in an April ’10 bout many hail as the most entertaining fight of the two-plus year-long Super Six round robin tournament.
Despite the loss and another to Andre Ward in the tournament finals, Froch was viewed as the fresher fighter and the odds-on favorite for Saturday’s rematch.
That theory came in part due to past injuries suffered by Kessler, who was forced to drop out of the tournament despite beating Froch. The Dane came back a year later, having won three more since topping the then-unbeaten Brit, but showed considerable signs of heading towards the twilight of his career.
Flashes of old glory were on full display during Saturday’s sequel at the O2 Arena in London, but never enough to create the notion that he’d score a win on the road. By night’s end, Kessler (46-3, 35KO) was left with his third career loss and a decision on whether or not to continue on after more than 15 years in the pro ranks.
The leading fighters in his super middleweight weight class hope he chooses the latter.
“Should we do it again,” Froch (31-2, 22KO) wondered aloud after the fight. “That's up to the promoters, but I would like to do it again, make it 2-1.”
A trilogy with Froch seems more realistic than any chance of ever avenging his loss to Ward. That said, the lineal super middleweight king would like to see the 34-year old Kessler stick it out.
“He certainly earned that right (to retire),” Ward said when asked of his opinion on the subject, but clearly not in favor of such a move. “I think he showed a lot tonight. If he wants to, if he thinks he can physically hold up, I think he should fight on.”
Kessler’s lone other loss came at the hands of undefeated future Hall of Fame entrant Joe Calzaghe in their vacant lineal super middleweight title fight in 2007.
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