In his 15-year professional boxing career, Denmark's Mikkel Kessler had only ever lost to the undisputed best of the era: Joe Calzaghe in 2007 and Andre Ward in 2009.
After a frenetic, brutal slugfest with "The Viking Warrior" earlier this afternoon (Sat., May 25, 2013) inside O2 Arena in London, England, however, Nottingham's Carl Froch can now add himself to the select, and distinguished, short list.
Having lost to Kessler in the veteran's native Denmark as part of the "Super Six" tournament three years ago, Froch was eager for revenge when they once again did battle in the main event of a London-based, Sky Sports and HBO-televised card. While a slow start wound up costing Froch in 2010, he stayed busy right from the start this time, using his long jab to keep a surprisingly-hesitant Kessler at bay for many of the early rounds.
Near the midpoint, however, the notoriously-powerful Dane began to unload, closing the distance and landing a vicious left hook to the head and body. Froch, the owner of one of the best chins in boxing, shrugged off the blows and once again steered the fight back in his favor. While Kessler's hook continued to land, Froch pursued unabated, pressuring "The Viking Warrior" despite eating a handful of counters that looked capable of killing the average Cruiserweight.
As they headed into the championship rounds, though, Froch's jab output dropped and Kessler's murderous power shots began to land more and more often. In the eleventh, a pinpoint counter straight seemed to buckle Froch for the first time, but despite Kessler's best efforts, he couldn't put away the gritty Englishman.
Froch refused to let Kessler end the night with the advantage and abandoned all pretense of defense in favor of flat-out hunting Kessler across the ring with wild right hands in the final round. To the crowd's delight, the bell rang with Kessler in full retreat and Froch landing heavy shots, securing a close-but-clear unanimous decision.
Kessler has undoubtedly lost a step, but he fought an excellent fight and his counters were on point -- one right hand in the eighth would have put down anyone south of Heavyweight not named "Froch." Carl, as usual, demonstrated incomparable durability and truly fantastic aggression. Both men should be commended for their performances.
Kessler stated before the fight that he would retire if he couldn't defeat Froch a second time, while Carl is out for a rematch with Ward. No matter what they do, I wish them the best.
For round-by-round coverage of the London brawl between "Froch vs. Kessler 2" click here.