Kessler outpoints Froch, regains super middleweight title
Mikkel Kessler had reason to celebrate Saturday night: He took Carl Froch's belt and re-established himself as a top super middleweight. Photo / Tom Casino-Showtime
Former super middleweight titleholder Mikkel Kessler erased any doubts about him following his surprisingly one-sided loss to Andre Ward last year by scoring a unanimous decision over Carl Froch in a brisk and entertaining 12-round battle in Herning, Denmark on Saturday.
The bout, which was televised by Showtime in the U.S., was part of Stage Two of the network's Super Six Boxing Classic tournament.
Kessler (43-2, 32 knockouts), who beat Froch by scores of 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113, was the tournament favorite before he lost his opening round bout to Ward, who befuddled and dominated the more-experienced Dane to a 10th-round technical decision last November. After the one-sided loss, Kessler went from being the tournament favorite to a vulnerable fighter who may not survive the relentless aggression of Froch, an undefeated titleholder known for overwhelming more-talented fighters.
However, it was Kessler who pressed the action in the majority of rounds of Saturday's 12-round title bout.
Working behind his jab and subtle head movement, Kessler stalked the undefeated Englishman, confidently landing right hands to the body and head in the early rounds.
Though Kessler appeared in control of the middle rounds due his forward motion and busier punch output, Froch (26-1, 20 KOs) rallied in the fourth and fifth by landing stiff single jabs and hard right hands from a distance and left uppercuts when in close.
Froch continued to fire back at Kessler in the late rounds, but the Danish star did a good job of slipping, blocking, and stepping away from incoming punches. In the eighth round, Kessler rocked Froch with a short right when the defending bleltholder lunged into the punch. He ran Froch into another similar right hand in the ninth.
However, as is his style, Froch came on very strong in the championship rounds, standing his ground and initiating crowd-pleasing exchanges in the center of the ring. They traded monster right crosses in the dead-even 11th round, which appeared to drain Kessler.
Though fans will laud Kessler for boldly continuing to press the action in the 12th round, his heart nearly got him in trouble when he gassed out during a furious final-minute toe-to-toe exchange with Froch. Kessler, who fought the late rounds of the bout with a nasty cut through his left eyebrow, wisely held Froch a couple times in the final 30 seconds of the bout.
The hard-fought victory keeps Kessler alive in the Super Six stakes. The four-time titleholder is now tied with Ward, Froch, and Andre Dirrell with 2 points. Arthur Abraham, who will be Froch's next opponent, is still the tournament leader with the 3 points he earned by knocking out Jermain Taylor in the first bout of Stage One.