Tonight, 11.15pm approx, live Sky Box Office

ONCE upon a time boxers fought the best as a matter of course if not honour, thrilling 15-round wars were commonplace and legends such as Sugar Ray Robinson were born.

The sport is a much-changed place now but Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler would be celebrated in any era. And tonight these old-school hardmen go at it again in a much-anticipated re-match, a fight for the ages.

There’s been no sledging, no stunts and certainly no burning dollar bills. This return fight sells itself, just as easily as the tickets which vanished in a matter of hours.

That day I watched the tickets disappear on the screen before my eyes as the system refused to process an order for me and my pals. It is a tale familiar to many who wanted to be there because boxing fans and those who love sport know this is it. Boxing doesn’t get more real or indeed better.

Much has happened since Kessler edged Froch in an absolute barn-burner three years ago when the only thing hotter than the prevailing ash cloud causing havoc across Europe was the punching inside the ring that night in Denmark.

It was 12 rounds of carnage as the action flowed destructively and heavy shots became the stock in trade. Both men were rocked but stood firm, Kessler was badly cut and Froch lost the WBC belt as well as his unbeaten record. The record book reflects Froch has fared better since as his reputation has soared.

I previewed the fight then too and described how I had been waiting for that fight, the bet on Kessler for so long I could barely contain myself.

I always believed Mikkel would be too fast, too good for Carl, but the truth is there wasn’t much in it at all.

Now Froch is the favourite 1.54 and rightly so, he approaches this in the form of his life. Kessler (3.0) is back fit, healthy and winning well but perhaps not quite the force of 2010.

How the picture has changed. But the market has moved in tandem with the general mood swing and though I’ve moved with it, there is an argument to say there has been an over-reaction.

There isn’t much between this pair and that should be reflected in the prices. I think Froch will win but there is a case to back Kessler on price alone.

You sense Froch and Kessler could fight 10 times and share five wins each, so closely are they matched. The Kessler who pushed Joe Calzaghe so hard in 2007 would beat Froch most times, I believe, but the wear is beginning to tear and there were signs of decline during Kessler’s four-round win over Allan Green last May.

The Dane recovered from an early knockdown to stop Green but the way Kessler went down got me thinking. I wonder if his body can stand the likely punishment coming his way.

Froch has never looked like being stopped, Kessler hasn’t yet (except on cuts to Andre Ward) but time may be pressing. Put it this way, if you had to back one man to stand firm it would be Froch.

Kessler is, technically, the better boxer but does like to stay in range and gets hit more than he used to. I have a sneaking feeling Mikkel and Jimmy Montoya may plan to out-box and out-smart Froch.

I’m just not certain he can start dancing at this stage of his career. Certainly that’s the way to beat Froch – speed beats “The Cobra” most times.

But the loss to Ward forced Froch to adapt and the most impressive part of his demolition job on Lucian Bute last May was the number of punches he threw in succession. It made Froch less susceptible to counters and more likely to land his own heavy hands. It may be the deciding factor here, along with pure, innate courage.

Froch has gone the distance in six of his last nine bouts and with Kessler’s durability the 2.52 for Froch by DEC/TD is probably the call but I am drawn to the idea of Froch by KO/TKO/DQ 3.7.

Kessler hasn’t been in with an A-List fighter for more than two years and I sense he might be about to go.

Froch, meanwhile, is bursting with confidence and power. Maybe Mikkel has one last, big night in him but it looks like the time is right for The Cobra. Whatever happens, it will almost certainly be worth paying the extra few Sky Box Office bucks for. Trilogy decider anyone?

Verdict

The safe, solid tip, is Froch via points, as it’s hard to force a stoppage when two fighters are so evenly matched – but Froch has forced the pace well in his last two fights. If he can do that this time he might wear Kessler down force a late intervention. Froch by stoppage in rounds 10, 11 or 12 are generously priced at 34.0, 36.0 and 46.0.

Recommended Bet

Back Froch to beat Kessler at 1.54

Milesey (Betfair)

2 Comments
  1. thechief 9 years ago

    Milesey do u know when this fight was made was Froch 11/8 to win or did I dream it

  2. gunner 9 years ago

    what a fight get in carl froch needed to dig deep but GET IN :) :)

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