Sunday, April 25, 2010

Kessler and Froch Engage in an Instant Classic

Mikkel Kessler (left) and Carl Froch waged a twelve round war in which Kessler eventually garnered the victory.

In the best fight thus far of the Showtime network's Super Six World Boxing Classic, 168-pound super middleweights Mikkel Kessler and Carl Froch engaged in a back and forth battle that will likey be in the running for fight of the year honors.

WBC champion Froch, from Nottingham, England, made the trek to Kessler's home country of Denmark. The fight took place in the small town of Herning before an enthusiastic, partisan crowd of more than 10,000.

After twelve rounds of heated action in a bout that featured wild exchanges, it was Kessler that emerged with the title belt by unanimous scores of 117-111, 115-113 and 116-112. This writer also pegged it for Kessler at 115-113.

Kessler, who suffered a serious cut high on his left brow had to dig down deep in order to secure the victory. He was uncharacteristically aggressive and abandoned his careful boxing style and went blow-for-blow with the heavy-handed Englishman.

"I knew he was not that good at fighting backards," said Kessler just after the decision in his favor was announced. "He fought my fight instead of me fighting his fight and that was the difference."

Kessler, 43-2, 32 knockouts, got off to a good start by landing quick left jabs and offering plenty of movement. He enjoyed the speed advantage over Froch, now 26-1, 20 knockouts, who was the stronger and more deliberate puncher. But as the fight wore on, it was Froch who seemed to take control by using unorthodox punches fired from long range.

Froch's big right hand kept Kessler honest, but it wasn't enough for him to keep his championship.

However, by the sixth round the pendulum had swung and it was Kessler who seemed to find a second wind. It allowed him to take charge of the second half of the bout as he took the fight to Froch. Standing in front of "The Cobra", the Danish fighter was able to nail him repeatedly with stinging combinations and powerful right hand shots. As a result, Kessler won five of the last seven rounds on my unoffcial card.

The final two rounds were ferocious in nature as both prizfighters stood their ground and unloaded every punch in their arsenal. Both bled from cuts and threw caution to the wind. It was a classic donnybrook where either man could have been felled by any punch at any moment. This was thought to be the type of brawl that would play to Froch's stengths, but it was Kessler who put his punches together more effectively enabling him to outfight Froch, who tended to land the singular harder shots.

"No excuses," said a disappointed Froch after he learned of his first loss. "It was very close and I don't want to take anything away from Mikkel Kessler. I thought I did it all and I thought there were three times when I had him badly hurt."

For Kessler, who desperately needed the win after having suffered a one-sided loss to Andre Ward in the first round of the tournament, it was a homecoming worthy of his nickname - the "Viking Warrior".

Kessler's confidence had been badly shaken in the loss to Ward last November. The manner in which he was defeated led many to write him off as a serious threat to the tournament favorites. When the unique series was announced, it was Kessler, the former WBA and WBC super midleweight champion, who had been favored by many to emerge the victor of the entire affair.

Kessler, who has delved into modeling in the past, had his handsome good looks marred by a wide, deep cut and swelling around his eyes. But he was unable to mask the happiness of his win. His blue eyes twinkled and his bright smile told the story of his night.

"I look like a fighter tonight," he happily declared as he clutched his newly obtained championship belt. "Maybe the modeling will have to stay in my past."

April 2010


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