Each man’s paths have been upwards since their fight April 24, 2010. After the fight, Kessler withdrew from the Super Six tourney and took nine months off to let his damaged eye heal. He’s now on a three fight winning streak that includes a wins over Mehdi Bouadla, Allan Green and a title win over Brian Magee last December.
“Mikkel hasn’t boxed at the same level as me since the fight,” said Froch. “At the press conference, Rob McCracken compared the opponents we’ve boxed to Premier League versus Division Two – I guess in the States you would say it would be Major League versus Little League. Mikkel has been in with decent opposition, don’t get me wrong, but Brian Magee is no Lucian Bute. I am coming into this fight – Yusaf Mack aside – on the back of the better fights. Some might say that means I’ve had the tougher run, but I believe being in with better opposition makes you a better fighter.”
Since Kessler, Froch has been in with Arthur Abraham who had just been thoroughly exposed as immobile , one-dimensional and out of his weight division by Andre Dirrell before losing that fight by disqualification by landing an illegal blow to a fallen Dirrell’s head. Froch win was decisive but the style was tailor-made for him. Abraham was similarly dominated by Andre Ward in his next bout. Most recently, he went on a four fight win streak, out-pointing Robert Steiglitz for his WBO super middleweight title. Abraham was stopped in four rounds in the rematch.
Froch’s next bout was versus Super Six replacement Glen Johnson who made a rare appearance at 168 pounds in his forties. Froch won a hard fought majority decision over the grizzled veteran. Johnson lost his next three fights to Lucian Bute, Andrzei Fonfera and George Groves, giving competitive rounds while losing valiantly.
In the Super Six Finals, where Andre Ward had one good hand, his right, Froch came up short, losing by scores of 118-110 and 115-113 twice. Ward was brilliant, boxing from angles, feinting, tying up when necessary and generally out-boxing Froch.
Froch bounced back by decimating Lucian Bute in his last fight at super middleweight over five one-sided rounds. In November of last year, Froch stopped journeyman Yusaf Mack in three rounds.
When faced with master boxers, Carl Froch has problems. Even facing a tough and rugged but straight forward style like Glen Johnson’s in his forties, Froch had trouble.
At the second or third level, Mack, Froch excelled with a knockout.
Against Bute, the weight could be a factor. Certainly years of facing second tier opponents caught up to him along with leaving Montreal for his first big fight abroad.
How will Kessler, who has been abroad in big fights (Calzaghe and Ward) handle walking into the O2 Arena? Who can say? But when you look at his performance at the second tier and his performances at the top tier, Kessler is not showing decline and is competitive if not dominant. Three fights. Three stoppage wins.
Finally, I asked Froch how he had changed since the first fight. While Kessler has rebuilt into a more mobile boxer, Froch has remained Froch. The quirky and herky-jerky “Cobra” luring you in with a dangling jab ready to strike. Again, Froch returned to their resumes.
“I’ve boxed better fighters – simple. I have had one low-level defense in Yusaf Mack but other than him, I’ve had top class opposition in 50-50 fights. Had I switched off against any of those fighters, I could’ve been knocked out. I haven’t been knocked out. I haven’t ever switched off, and I won’t switch off on Saturday,” Froch said.
The way to win a rematch of a fight you’ve lost is to accept your mistakes and correct them. Find a new path. It isn’t to deny what happened in the first place. I am curious Carl Froch will bring new to this party and if that will be enough to change the past into the future he dreams of.