The highly anticipated re-match between Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler for the IBF Super-Middleweight title was confirmed on Tuesday night to the delight of fight fans round the globe. Scheduled (at time of writing) for 25th May 2013 in Nottingham it will see two outstanding boxers going head-to-head looking to settle their respective legacies. With the true prize of career redemption on the line, get ready for the fight of the year.
Redemption is a killer for boxers. The awful sight of a heart-broken Ricky Hatton gasping for breath on his knees in the corner of a ring he was expected to dominate is still freshly scarred into the memory. Hatton’s unrelenting desire to reclaim his memories self-deluded the former World Champion to take up the gloves long after the last ghosts of his physical boxing ability had left the building. Hatton wasn’t the first fighter to make that mistake and sadly he won’t be the last either. Take, for example, the recent hideous proposal for Steve Collins to settle matters with Roy Jones Jr at the tender age of 48 as a blueprint for bad retirement planning amongst ageing fighters.
The beauty of the re-match between Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler however is the opportunity it affords both men to secure their legacies within the (admittedly late) prime of their respective careers. The two last met in Denmark in 2010 in the Super Six Series where after 12 rounds of unrelenting toe-to-toe scrapping the slim line decision went the way of Kessler. It has taken Froch until very recently to hold his hands up and admit he was fairly beaten on the night. Prior to that he played every excuse card from the obvious ‘home fighter advantage’ to the spuriousness of the volcanic ash cloud as reason for his first professional career loss.
Since that fight both men have gone on to take some serious fights, Froch perhaps more so than Kessler, but it was always clear that the loss has haunted the Nottingham man throughout. Many point to the unresolved aggro between Froch and Joe Calzaghe as the main reason for this. Froch’s desire to be seen as a better overall fighter than the Welshman and the fact that Calzaghe famously beat Kessler in Cardiff in 2007 keeps the Dane very much in Froch’s subconscious.
The fact that this re-match has been so keenly welcomed by both camps however speaks volumes of both men’s desires to finally settle the debate. For Froch, going forward, he hopes to floor Kessler then move on to have another pop at the seemingly unbeatable Andre Ward (subsequent victor over both Froch and Kessler, in addition to many others…) but the motivation for Kessler remains slightly less clear.
In his native Denmark Kessler is a huge sports star. Some liken him to David Beckham in the UK in terms of popularity and exposure or as the promoter of Froch v Kessler, Eddie Hearn, pointed out “He (Kessler) could fight a nobody and 10,000 fans would still turn out for him”. It seems, at the age of 33, he has little to gain by taking on the dangerous Froch away from home when he could coast out a few fights in Copenhagen and retire comfortably. Otherwise known as “doing a Klitcshko”. Ultimately though, Kessler is a born scrapper, a man who loves a challenge and one who is prepared to put his legacy on the line with Carl Froch and see who walks away the victor, Viking style.
For all these reasons the Froch v Kessler re-match will be a barnstorming, balls-out, old-fashioned tear up of the highest order. Expect both men to stick their chins out, throw some slugs and see who’s left at the end. Personally I think Froch will do the business but in a fight like this both men have an equal punchers chance. I would just bank on Froch’s chin over Kessler’s but whatever happens it will be a fascinating encounter and one of the most highly anticipated fights of 2013.