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Mikkel Kessler and Carl Froch waged the most action-packed fight of the Super Six World Boxing Classic when they met in April 2010, and they are ready to wage war again.
"They described our first fight as 'brutal,' " Froch said, "and if I was to forecast one word that will probably describe our rematch, then it will likely be 'savage.' There is going to be a bloody aftermath, because neither of us is going to concede any ground in this one."
The first fight was a dramatic slugfest in Kessler's home country of Denmark, in which both men showed enormous heart and determination, especially in the memorable 12th round, which was a candidate for round of the year.
"During our fight, he dropped a bomb on me," Froch said. "I felt it split my nose -- and there was no way I was standing for that. It's like autopilot: I just hit him with everything I had. He momentarily buckled but still came forward for more, and that was the story of the entire fight.
"Some of the punches I landed would have sent any lesser fighter's head into the fifth row. But he just kept coming, walking through the pain barrier again and again. So I need to inflict more damage this time. Be clinical, not brutal."
|Carl Froch hurt Mikkel Kessler in their 2010 Super Six matchup, but as Froch said, "he just kept coming."|
Kessler wound up winning a unanimous decision and Froch's 168-pound title belt, but from that moment, the fighters and their fans talked about an eventual rematch.
Kessler and Froch both have been through a lot since that fight. Kessler suffered injuries, including a career-threatening eye injury, causing him to drop out of the tournament and go through two lengthy layoffs of about a year each. He has fought only three times since facing Froch, but in his most recent bout in December, Kessler stopped Brian Magee in the third round to reclaim a belt.
Froch has fought five times since losing to Kessler, including advancing to the Super Six final. However, he met Andre Ward in that fight and was easily outboxed in the decision loss in December 2011. But Froch bounced back to stop then-unbeaten Lucian Bute in May 2012 to win another world title and defend it once.
Now, three years after their Super Six barnburner, Kessler (30-2, 22 KOs) and Froch (46-2, 35 KOs) are set to square off again in the rematch that both said would eventually happen.
They will meet this time on Froch's British turf, to unify their world titles on Saturday (HBO, 6 p.m. ET; replay at 10 p.m. ET/PT) at the sold-out O2 Arena in London, which will rock with more than 18,000 in attendance.
"What can you expect from this Froch versus Kessler II? Watch the first fight, then double the intensity, the brutality, the drama and double Carl's desire to be victorious in front his home fans," said Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport, Froch's promoter.
"I couldn't be more ready," said Kessler, who lost a title fight to Ward in his opening bout of the Super Six. "I feel very comfortable. Froch will definitely not get his revenge."
Froch, 35, and Kessler, 34, both expect another frenzied fight in their rematch.
"It is going to be a toe-to-toe fight. It will be vicious and brutal," Froch said. "This is a fight that could go either way, but I know that I will win. He beat me the first time, no excuses, but [Saturday] will be different. I will throw punches at him from the first bell and, honestly, I think I will be much for him to handle. I know that he will not grab or hold but fight fire with fire and come right back at me, so the fans will be in for a real treat."
Said Kessler: "All over the world, the fans really want to see us doing it again because they know it will be a war. No holding, no head-butting, no clinching. Just two warriors going at it from the first bell until the very end. It will be pure action and adrenaline."
Froch has traveled several times during his career. He faced Jermain Taylor, Glen Johnson and Ward in the United States, fought Arthur Abraham on neutral turf in Finland and traveled to Denmark for the first Kessler fight.
Kessler, too, has traveled to hostile turf and is as battle-tested as Froch. In 2005, Kessler outpointed Australia's Anthony Mundine in a world title fight Down Under, and in 2007 lost a decision in a unification fight to Welsh hero Joe Calzaghe at a rugby stadium in Wales.
"I promised Carl that if the fight should ever happen again, it's going to be on his home turf," Kessler said. "And I'm a man of my word. And, of course, it's always dangerous. I have tried it before. I'm talking Calzaghe against [a crowd of] 55,000 people and Mundine [in front of 33,000]."A lot of people said I am crazy to come to London and fight him in his hometown because I have already beaten him once. But you know what, this is the fight I want to fight; I don't see any bigger fight in the world right now. I am a man of my word and I shook his hand and I said I am going to fight you in your hometown, and that is why I am here. I want to show him and all the fans that I am better than him in his hometown, too. And I want his belt."
Kessler said his experience traveling for fights will ensure that Saturday's trek to the lion's den won't be an overwhelming one. He says he's prepared for the hostility.
|Both the favored Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler, who will be fighting away from home this time, expect another toe-to-toe scrum Saturday in London.|
"I have the utmost of respect for Carl, I feel we are very much alike," Kessler said. "He is a great champion, a true warrior that has fought the best opponents all over the world in some of the most hostile places, just like me. Our first fight, especially the last round, showed what we are all about. I am fresh, I am healthy and I am ready to defeat him once again. I don't care where we fight. I said anytime, anywhere."
Froch fought his two most recent bouts in Nottingham: the knockout of Bute, and a third-round KO of Yusaf Mack in November. Those bouts came after four consecutive fights on the road.
Froch said he enjoys fighting at home and said the experience gives him a lift.
"If you're away from home, it can affect you a little bit negatively," he said. "And being at home affects you in a positive way because you're rewarded for the work you do.
"So I think the home-crowd advantage in boxing is an advantage, and I'm going to relish in that and take that with a positive on the night, because when I'm letting my shots go and landing, and backing him up, the crowd will be erupting and going crazy as opposed to hearing a pin drop. And then when your opponent is letting shots go there's no noise, as opposed to the opponent throwing shots that miss you and the crowd goes mad because he's pushing you back."
So what will happen when the warriors collide again?
"Carl Froch is a helluva fighter, but so is Mikkel," said Jimmy Montoya, Kessler's trainer. "You can't predict knockouts. They just happen. But let me tell you one thing: Mikkel will win by knockout."
Said Froch: "The rematch will be the same story during the early rounds, but the ending will be written as it should have been [in the first fight], and it's an ending that the Danes are definitely not going to like. They are going to get the full, ruthless Carl Froch experience."