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14 NOVEMBER 2018

Where am I? Home Columns Marc Livitz

Warriors’ Call – Froch and Kessler Square Off Once Again

By: Marc Livitz: London, England undoubtedly has more than its fair share of recognizable landmarks known the world over. Among the newer locales is the O2 arena (formerly known as the Millennium Dome) made popular in some ways before its grand opening in 2000 by Irish actor Pierce Brosnan (aka James Bond) in the opening sequences of the 1999 “007” film, “The World Is Not Enough”.



There are likely thousands upon thousands of inhabitants of the British Isles who are hoping that a certain combatant can produce the same type of flash and entertainment one week from Saturday. Unlike James Bond, however Carl “The Cobra” Froch can be assured that a knockout victory win over Mikkel “Viking Warrior” Kessler will excuse him from any need to hang from the building’s exterior wiring as “007” once did.


The two fighters are not strangers to one another by any means. They are both among the top rated super middleweight competitors in the world and they previously met in April of 2010 as part of the highly successful “Super Six Boxing Classic”.


In an entertaining back and forth style of clash, Kessler (46(35)-2) prevailed via unanimous decision in his home country of Denmark and took Froch’s WBC super middleweight title. Since then, all three of his bouts have ended in knockout wins and none have gone past the sixth round over the course of four years.


His Nottingham, UK opponent went four up (2 knockouts and 2 decisions) and one down up to this point in time. Froch (30(22)-2) gained the highest of praise last May when he savagely tore the then undefeated Lucian Bute to shreds with a fifth round knockout.


The Romanian Bute was one of the top super middleweights in the world and he did not take part in the previously mentioned “Super Six” tournament. Carl and Mikkel each share common losses to unbeaten American and eventual tournament champion, Andre Ward (December 2011 and November 2009, respectively). Kessler was dealt his first defeat by former champion Joe Calzaghe in November 2007 in Cardiff, Wales.


Each athlete taking part in “Warriors’ Call – Froch vs. Kessler II” spoke to the media earlier today. Their fight on Saturday, May 25 will be for both the IBF and WBA Super Middleweight championships and will be televised live in the United States on HBO (6pm ET/3pm PT). The highly anticipated bout sold more than 18,000 tickets in just three hours. Selected quotes are below.

WBA Super Middleweight Champion Mikkel Kessler on fighting in Froch’s home country: “I am fully aware that they have a huge fan base in England. I promised Carl that if we ever fought again that we’d go to his home turf. I’m not worried about the hostile crowd. I’ve done it before. I fought (Joe) Calzaghe in front of 55,000 of his fans. It may have been hard before, but it’s not anymore. You have to shake it off, so I’ll be ready. I know what I’m going into. I have something in me that I have to show the boxing fans around the world. I have to show that I am better than Carl Froch. I’m going to take his IBF title.”
Kessler on fighting the first rematch of his career and if he expects Froch to fight differently: “I fought him before but it seems longer than three years ago and I’ve never tried in my professional career to fight the same person twice. We can’t assume that the same plan as last time will work again. I have more experience now and I know Carl will come at me hard. I’ll need to have a plan A, B, C and D.  I only remember little pieces of our last fight. I remember that he had long arms and I did get hit with his left at times. “
“I don’t think he has changed much. I know he’s gained more confidence and he’s relatively strong. Even though he lost to me and to Ward, he still makes the same mistakes and fights awkwardly. That’s his fighting style, but I can see his flaws. He’s not any better. He’s just more confident. He’s difficult at times, but in a strange way, if you could even say that.”
Mikkel’s thoughts on Froch’s five round destruction of Lucian Bute: “He had a big crowd and I could tell that Bute was very nervous. He’s a great fighter and you can’t take that away from him, but Carl didn’t let him fight his fight. There never was a chance for the bout to go Bute’s way. “
Kessler’s Ideas on the upcoming bout: “I’ll just do what I’m used to doing. I have a very good game plan for this fight and I feel as though I’m at my peak. I’m faster on my feet and with my hands and I have never been in such good shape as now.”
IBF Super Middleweight Champion Carl Froch’s thoughts on a rematch strategy: “I don’t have those types of plans. You have to change your game anyway if you’re a top fighter. If someone is pushing you back, then you have to get behind your jab. You try to hit your opponent with shots at range. I plan to hit him with more shots and get hit as little as possible. I think we’re both aware of the danger if one of us just starts off by trying to simply steamroll the other. It’s as simple as that. Whatever he brings only means I have to be ready for it.”
Froch on fighting on his native soil and finally getting the recognition he deserves: “It’s satisfying and humbling as well. I’ve had high caliber fights against top competition. People who didn’t watch me before will want to do so now. They can go back and watch my fights against Jean Pascal, Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrell, Arthur Abraham and others. I haven’t won all of my fights and I’m not undefeated, but I keep coming back. I’ve never been outclassed. (Andre) Ward didn’t outclass me although he beat me. If my fight with Kessler would have been fought on British soil, then I would have won it.”
“The mindset needs to be the same. Being at home can be a positive advantage because you’ve been rewarded for what you do. When I let my shots go in the ring in London, the crowd will go wild as opposed to being able to hear a pin drop when and if he hits me. This is great for sport. All sports are great and this world is a better place because of them. This is the biggest fight of the decade for England. I want people to look back on this fight and know that two warriors left it all in the ring.”
Carl “The Cobra” on his victory over Lucian Bute and what he expects to see at the o2 Arena: “When I fought Bute, many thought that it would be a hard night for me. It will be much of the same crowd as in Nottingham plus some of the crossover fans. I expect ninety percent of the fans to be cheering for me. Whatever the crowd was in Nottingham, it will be twice the size on the night. It will be electric.”
Froch’s thoughts on a rematch with Lucian Bute: “I think a rematch would be easier for me because he’s a broken man. He needs to stay clear of me and he should move up to light heavyweight.”
Carl’s Early Prediction for the fight and his thoughts on Mikkel Kessler: “We’ll both stick behind the jab because that what a sensible boxer does. We could say this is round thirteen because it won’t be long before we’re in punching range. After maybe two or three “touchy feely” rounds, the shots will start to fly.”
“We have respect for each other because we shared the ring for twelve fantastic rounds. There’s no need to talk it up or get a big head. We’re in the there just doing our best. It will get nasty in the ring, but there’s no hatred between us. It’s just two guys in this working class sport.”
Carl Froch on a possible matchup with legend Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins: “He’s a great ambassador for the sport. I think he’s been around too long, but he’s still doing it and you have to hand it to him for that. I am not a light heavyweight, though and he’s not a super middleweight. We’d have to figure something out.” 



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