Going into the May 25th super middleweight bout, expectations were high for the rematch between Carl Froch (31-2, 22 knockouts) and Mikkel Kessler (46-3, 35 knockouts). After all, the first fight was considered the 2010 “Fight of the Year” by many fans thanks to the relentless pace and endless action set by both fighters. In one of the rare occurrences in sports the rematch not only delivered, but in many ways surpassed the level of excitement that the first fight had provided.
Things seemed off to a slow start at the sound of the opening bell. With Froch flicking a rangy jab and following with a left hook, Kessler wasn’t given a chance to adjust and employ his own gameplan early in the fight. Not one to just take a beating, Kessler began responding with his own, less effective, jab. Kessler’s most significant and obvious tactic was ripping hooks to the body of Froch both early and often in the early round of their 12-round fight.
As the rounds progressed, Froch seemed both comfortable and dominant in his strategy. With a stiff jab that was keeping Kessler at bay, Froch would manage to land looping right hooks that would hurt Kessler throughout the rounds. Much to his credit, Kessler stood his ground and always managed to respond with his own combination against the Englishman.
Just as Kessler was beginning to look both damaged and frustrated by Froch’s strategy, Kessler manages to come out ultra aggressive in the fifth and begin landing some hard shots against Froch. This change in pace forced both fighters to think quickly as vicious blows were exchanged by each to both the head and the body. It was Kessler who seemed to get the better of Froch however after he managed to land a winging right hook that briefly stunned Froch. Much like Kessler managed to do earlier in the fight, Froch recovered quickly and closed out the round in a strong manner.
With each passing round the punch output continued to increase, and the points gap between Froch and Kessler was beginning to close. Just as the Dane was beginning to win some rounds, Froch engaged Kessler in a war of hooks that saw both fighters throwing leather, but Froch landing the more effective shots. With Froch staggering along the ropes, Froch remained constant in his pressure and was once again winning this fight.
This trend continued for much of the later rounds with neither fighter backing down, but Froch consistently getting the better of his opponent. Just as it seemed like Froch was the sure winner of the bout Kessler comes out in the 11th-round and lands a vicious combination that badly staggered Froch. Sensing his opponent’s vulnerability, Kessler bum-rushed Froch in an attempt to put away the Brit and score the emphatic stoppage win. Much to Kessler’s dismay, Froch not only managed to recover but closed out the round going blow-for-blow with the Dane.
Whether it was frustration, discouragement, or just exhaustion the final round was as dominant a round as Froch could have hoped for. All the way, however, Kessler stood right in front of Froch proving that the “Viking Warrior” nickname was one that was earned not given. Froch would end up winning a wide and fairly dominant unanimous decision victory on scores of (118-110), (116-112), (115-113).
This was one of those rare fights where neither fighter goes home a loser, but the biggest winner was undoubtedly the fans. With rumblings of Kessler possibly retiring, here’s to hoping both fighters manage to share the ring once more before either calls it quits.