Carl Froch did the same thing in this rematch that he did in his first scrap with Mikkel Kessler: he threw more punches than the Dane. This time, the judges rewarded his efforts. The Brit Froch, who kept Kessler from getting untracked with a persistent jab, won by scores of 118-110, 116-112, 115-113 in the main event at O2 Arena in London on Saturday night, and on HBO.
Things got a tad hairy late, when Kessler went for broke in 11 and 12, but Froch's beard didn't betray him.
According to CompuBox, Froch went 261-1034 to 194-497 for the loser. Froch had better luck in the power punch department, as well, 135-90.
Froch said his rangey jab and work rate were the differences, to Max Kellerman afterwards. He said he watched tape of Andre Ward, and his jab, and used that to his benefit. Was he getting rocked or simply taking punches well, Max asked? He said he got caught a few times, but nothing bad, and cheekily asked Kellerman what he thought. Froch said in the first fight he was backing up too much and made an effort to tweak his strategy for the re-do. It paid off, it goes without saying... In the 11th, he said he got lazy. He'd do another Kessler fight, he said, or would do another Ward fight. He said Ward is a boxing purist, and doesn't have an entertaining style, so that diminishes his desire to meet him again. He said he didn't want to heap insults on Ward, noting that he'd already done too much of that, but he basically out and out called Ward boring. He seemed to consider that a Ward sequel would be best for his bank account, then. "Let's get him to the United Kingdom, next," he said.
The IBF super middle champ Froch (turns 36 in July; 30-2 with 22 KOs entering) was 167.9 pounds, while the WBA super middle champ Kessler (46-2 with 35 KOs; age 34) was 166.74 on Friday.
The two men had battled in 2010, with Kessler winning that one, via decision, on his home turf. They are actually phone friends, and chat on their cells every so often, but no one figured that would diminish their eagerness. For the record, Froch threw 961 to 682 punches in the first scrap.
Froch was making the second defense of the crown he took when he mugged Lucian Bute in May 2012. Kessler was on a four-fight winning streak, with his last loss coming in 2009, against Andre Ward.
Ward, who has wins over both, helped Jim Lampley call the bout, along with Max Kellerman.
In the first, Froch maybe stole the round with two rights late. He jabbed a bunch, not overly effectively while Kessler wasn't that busy.
In the second, a one-two slightly buzzed Kessler at 1:10.
In the third, Kess went with left and rights to the body but again wasn't busy enough. Again, the jab from Froch was persistent. It wasn't all that sharp but it was ever-present. Kessler's face was a bit marked, his forehead, his right eye.
In the fourth, the slow starting Kessler still didn't get untracked, not until the last third. Then his jab was a bit stiffer and came more frequently. In the fifth, a right got to Froch. He stepped it up in response to be the busier man in the last two thirds. Kessler outlanded him 15-14 in the round.
In the sixth, a left went low and the ref spoke to Kessler. Froch took a breather. He collected himself and again was busier overall. No flashy power shots but he was just being the harder worker. A sharp left hook maybe gave the round to Kessler. Harold Lederman had it 4-2 Froch.
In round seven, a right scored for Froch. Kessler held a bit and Froch stepped it up. In the eighth, a clean right at 2:05 scored for Froch. Four or so more clean blows then smacked Kessler, who looked like he might be caving. He landed a few of his own sharp blows, though. But he simply reacted to power shots better than the Dane did, by and large.
In the ninth, the Froch jab was the signature punch. Both scored a couple power shots, but Froch's looked a bit more telling. In the 10th, Froch kept the distance and pace he wanted, with his jab. In the 11th, rights buzzed Froch, for real. He looked precarious but held his legs. In the 12th, both men landed clean shots in a really stellar round. The ref almost pulled the plug on Kessler late.
We went to the cards.
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SPEEDBAG A note from CompuBox:
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV