Tag Archives: Froch

Mikkel Kessler Rematches Carl Froch @ O2, London

Dateline: May 25, Saturday, the O2 Arena in London. Mikkel Kessler and Carl Froch look to reprise their first classic encounter 3 years back that featured paralyzing exchanges and dramatic shifts in momentum as they battled ferociously to the final bell.

Last Time Out

Last Time Out

Kessler pulled away in the championship rounds to edge a unanimous decision,  winning the battle as it were, yet losing the war when he was forced to withdraw from the Showtime tourney, citing double vision. Froch went on to fight in the finale against Andre Ward in Madison Square Garden, losing a tough decision where he finished as the stronger fighter.

After taking a year off for rest and recovery, Kessler has staged a comeback against lesser competition to win back his WBA title. Meanwhile, Froch continues to fight the best opposition in boxing today, dethroning undefeated P4P phenom Lucian Bute who had scarcely dropped a round in his dominant multiple IBF defenses.

As such, Froch is expected to be the favorite, but there is no counting out Mikkel Kessler yet. With a record of 46-2, 35 KO, he knows a win here will further cement his already stellar career when he retires. Carl Froch is up there in credentials as well, even while sporting the lessor record on paper of 30-2, 22 and the slightly older age, 35 to Kessler’s younger 34 years.

The title fight numbers favor Kessler at 10-2 to Froch’s 7-2 record, but numbers won’t tell the story of this fight. I expect Kessler to box smarter this time as the more “damaged” fighter. It remains to be seen if he can in fact win a fair decision in England, but he took the fight knowing that Carl Froch has never been knocked out nor even buzzed much while on his run at the top levels of boxing, so the money available for such a prestigious fight was just too tempting to pass up.

Froch for his part knows that he could have boxed a bit smarter going down the stretch last time. He’s grown as a fighter, using previously untapped ring smarts since the Kessler battle and knows he’s the stronger fighter on the upswing. Whether he has the skills to tap into that strength to beat Kessler is his unknown in this fight. While doing a textbook job on taking Lucian Bute out of his comfort zone with unbelievable pressure, Froch arguably cracked as well when he and his promoter, Eddie Hearn, engaged in terribly unseemly celebrations in the ring as the beleaguered out of his league referee , Earl Brown, administered a count to Bute after a knockdown. Such transgressions in properly officiated fights almost always result in a disqualification for the fighter who’s training team entered into the ring while the fight was still in process.

Could be a great fight with proper officiating that does justice to the high level these fighters will be operating at, so the BBB of C has a chance to correct their sloppy oversight of the Bute fight. The fighters have relatively clean styles, usually foul and controversy free, so their fights are usually fan friendly  throwbacks to textbook boxing and slugging in context to the past history of great fighters.

The French Connection Goes to Sherwood Forest–Bute vs Froch

The lightly traveled Le Tombeur, Lucian Bute, makes his way to Merry Olde England through Sherwood Forest to the boxing ring of the Nottingham Arena to accept the honourable challenge by the infinitely game and dangerous Carl Froch.

That would be Saturday, May 26th British time. No word on whether the Nottingham sheriff will provide security, but fair to say some of Robin Hood’s Merry Men may swing down from the rafters for voracious support as typical of British fight fans.

Bute’s IBF supermiddleweight title will be up for grabs as well as his unblemished record, currently 12-0, 8 KO as the title holder, and 30-0, 24 KO for his career. I daresay that Lucian Bute sees respect as being up for grabs as well after being repeatedly tarred as a hometown Montreal fighter ducking out on the big fights of the Showtime Super Six tourney.

Lefty in Charge

Lefty in Charge

For the record, Bute was not invited, a serendipitous luck of fate since the tourney was poorly officiated and ended in a fizzle of fan support as  Andre Ward was hoisted as their new King.

The Showtime King’s first proclamation was that he wanted no part of Lucian Bute, so it was onward to the always ready to scrap Carl Froch who had Ward on unsteady legs in the final rounds of the tourney.

The First French Connection

The First French Connection

Carl Froch is an accomplished slugger who can match most any fighter today with the strongest competition over the past 4 years. Only Glen Johnson might have a shout on him. Normally Froch travels to his bouts, so this a welcome homecoming.

Bute is blessed with the fastest overall combination of hand and footspeed and steadiest balance anywhere near his division, and at age 32 seems to be just hitting his stride as a sharp hitting, sharp boxing lefty who is seldom contested in the ring. Froch will be the best fighter by a long shot Bute has ever faced, but it’s probable that conversely Bute is the best Froch has ever faced.

Froch has shown some very underrated boxing ability in the past, but at his heart he’s a fighter and slugger with good power and stamina, not an easy nut to crack. I look for Bute to fire up the turbines for a smooth flight about the ring as he softens up Froch with his blistering right jab during the tenderizing process.

As likable, credentialed, and game as Carl Froch is, he’ll be only a few weeks shy of his 35th birthday come fight night, so a lot of traditional strikes are against him, but one good shot changes everything in boxing, so therein is his hope. The first French Connection for Froch was his successful splash on the world stage, a hard fought Pascal win where he came on late to seize control of the fight, so he has that positive history.

Bute’s hope is another dominant performance and a superfight against whomever brings the money, but the economics are that Froch is currently the biggest attraction in the division. Bute will have to move up to lightheavy and travel to Denmark to face Mikkel Kessler or go home to face the fast starting, always fading Jean Pascal to match the purse and interest of this fight.

Should be interesting at a technical level at the very least and could be primal at it’s best if Froch surprises Bute with his best ever form.

Showtime Supermiddle Final Showdown– Andre Ward vs Carl Froch

The action is supposed to occur December 17th at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, but this Showtime Supermiddle Tourney has been plagued by so many cancellations, reschedules and bad hometown officiating it’s hard to know how much the average fan cares about the final.

The Showtime tourney was announced with great fanfare and accolades, but only a few fights have lived up to the promise of the best fighting the best. Now the tourney limps home on the final leg.

The best officiated and by far most competitive fight was overseas in Mikkel Kessler‘s backyard of Denmark where he and Carl Froch went toe to toe with great overall boxing skills. Excellent ebb and flow and a very clean fight where both fighters had to dig deeper than ever before just to stay in the bout. Kessler won the bout but had to withdraw from the tourney because of a eye injury first suffered in the Ward fight where he was without vision. 

One thing is certain about this bout, Andre Ward and Carl Froch are two really tough fighters with a lot of strength at the weight. Ward holds the traditional prime age advantage at 27 years to Froch’s 34 years, but Froch is fighting as well as he ever has, so I don’t see age playing a factor though Froch has 5 more fights and 48 more rounds on his ledger.

Andre Ward is the last American Olympic Gold Medalist and was supposed to be boxing’s new star, but he has almost disappeared in the boxing landscape since his 2004 debut to become a small venue hometown California fighter well removed from the bright lights of Las Vegas and Madison Square Garden. Ward compiled a 24-0, 13 KO record in boxing’s hinterlands and will be making his 4th defense of the WBA belt he won off of Mikkel Kessler, the blueprint of his butting, elbow and grappling style offense he has employed during the tourney.

Froch vs Pascal

Froch vs Pascal

Meanwhile, Englishman Carl Froch turned pro to no acclaim in 2002 and stayed that way in England as he steadily fought his way up the chain until his spectacular “international” debut in Froch’s hometown of Nottingham, England. He dethroned undefeated Canadian Jean Pascal to snatch away his WBC belt in a very well fought bout with plenty of back and forth action. Since then he has done a foxtrot around the world against the best supermiddleweights in the business and has slowly built up a healthy following in the UK. He is a fan friendly action fighter with only one very competitive loss to Mikkel Kessler to sully his record, 28-1, 20 KO.

So Froch is better prepared to fight away from home than Ward and may have more fans in attendance than Ward since British fans love to hop The Pond to vociferiously support their fighters. However better prepared Froch is to fight away from home, Ward is clearly the Showtime “house” fighter, the only fighter to fight all his Showtime fights on his hometurf until this fight was scheduled.

Ward is more than the last Olympic Gold Medalist, he is also undefeated, so there’s much more upside to keeping him undefeated for Showtime than if the British fighter wins. This means Froch has to beat him substantially to secure a draw, and knock him out cleanly to secure the win, but Froch is the slugger in this match even if his power seems on the wane of late.

Up Close Dark Arts

Up Close Dark Arts

The biggest problem for Froch being that Ward is also the dirtiest fighter in boxing, well experienced in spoiling tactics and various “Dark Arts.” More to the point, Ward is strong enough and willing to use them as his primary offensive weapons in naked view for all to see. So far only the brawling Sakio Biko could match his dirty tactics, and poor Bika had the ref interfering anytime he looked to be up against Ward, and of course the hometown judges awarded Ward almost every round of the ugly fight only Ward’s family might like to judge.

There is no easy way to prepare for the strength and skill Ward uses to employ his Dark Arts any more than there is to counter the interference from the referee. If Froch is to win he has to fight in a defensive grappling  style any time Ward gets in on him for a butt while aggressively setting up his knockout punches on the outside.

Grappling inside with dirty fighters is not Froch’s forte.

Ward is easy to find in ring center usually, but harder to hit cleanly with his octopus arms and elbows sucking up a fighter’s offense and spirit. He did employ cleaner tactics against Arthur Abraham and Allan Green, but Abraham is a pure upright slugger that a good boxer with footwork in a hometown setting can secure a win against and Green barely showed up, meaning that Ward does have some legitimate boxing skills to employ when he chooses and knows how to stay away from sluggers.

Nonetheless, Ward makes a very awkward fight to score because even when he chooses to box outside, he’s still got a quick low shoulder rush inside that knocks other fighters off balance and disrupt continuity.

Adding it all up, Ward has to be considered a favorite. I’ve no doubt Froch could outbox and outslug him in a cleanly officiated and scored bout, but such rules of fair play are regrettably not likely to be in force. I don’t envision a knockout, but a headbutt could stop the fight. The fight was originally delayed when Ward got a truly nasty cut in sparring, possibly working on a headbutt that went awry.

Should be interesting to see what tactics each employs, and if Froch is smart, he’ll stay clean and use his considerable skills to work as hard as he can and let the chips fly where they may. Two high profile Brits, Dereck Chisora and Amir Khan have lost against hometown fighters recently. Chisora employed headbutts and clowning strategies that clearly didn’t win over the judges. Khan was warned repeatedly for pushing before being deducted points. Both were winnable fights with a smarter, cleaner strategy.

Wonder what the over and under odds are for a clean fight vs a dirty fight?

Shame it has to come down to a question like that, but the Showtime folks and New York Commish have a chance to correct what has been largely a disappointing tourney with some genuine sporting rules of fair play enforced to finish the tourney and the year with a great fight.