Froch decisions Kessler in epic rematch
IBF super middleweight champion Carl Froch (31-2) defeated WBA super middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler (46-3) by a close 12 round unanimous decision after the pair served up another epic battle on Saturday night at the O2 Arena in London.
The final judges scores were 118-110, 116-112 and 115-113.
Froch had been defeated by Kessler on points in 2010, and their rematch was another thriller as Froch added the WBA belt to his IBF title and can look forward to more big-name fights, though his rival and good friend could be nearing the end of a gruelling ring career.
Kessler looked like a shadow of his former self from three years ago. He was reluctant to try and get past Froch's jab in the first three rounds and basically just gave those rounds away needlessly. However, he finally got his act in gear in the 4th when a double jab redened Froch's nose and then a left hook and a body shot thudded in as Kessler continued where he left off in the 5th but unlike their previous fight, Kessler didn't keep attacking and went back on the outside and fought only in brief spurts.
In the 6th, a right hand from Froch ripped into Kessler, but his opponent responded with a thunderous left hand. The cleaner work was now coming from Kessler and a crisp combination forced his opponent on the back foot.
Froch needed an answer to the assault and it came in the 7th when a left hook drew blood from his rival's nose. A three punch-combination then threatened to unravel Kessler and he was left unsteady on his legs as right hands were fired at him.
Each fighter hurt the other early in the 8th, but the second half of the round saw Froch will himself into the lead. Froch appeared to be pounding the fight out of Kessler until he responded with a right of his own, but the British fighter shrugged off his best punches. Kessler appeared ready to crumble as Froch unloaded his heavy amoury.
But the defiant 'Viking Warrior' marched out for the 9th and landed some crisp right hands, though Froch continued to walk through fire to deliver debilitating bombs. After an early left, Kessler failed to have much of an impact in the next round.
There was a strut in Froch's step in the 11th as he spat out accurate jabs, but Kessler suddenly caught him off guard with a countering right that staggered Froch but he weathered the storm and went on the attack. Kessler cut Froch over the left eye in the round.
The final round was a fitting end to the battle with a left hook from Froch sending Kessler back towards the ropes. Froch pounced, unloading punch after punch but Kessler came back with some nice shots of his own through Froch's wide open defence. At the final bell cheers of appreciation drew from the packed crowd.
After the fight, Froch said "He did hurt me a couple of times, I think everyone saw that. But I hurt him a little bit more and I thought I deserved the win. I thought it was unanimously my fight."
Also on the bill:
George Groves (19-0) destroyed Uruguayan Noe Gonzalez (30-3) when a straight right hand 51 seconds into the 5th round ended the fight.
Groves, 25, now moves a step closer to a world title shot against Carl Froch.
Tony Bellew (20-1-1) decisioned Mali hard man Isaac Chilemba (20-2-2) in a rematch of a dull draw in March.
Bellew was more disciplined and got home winning a unanimous decision with scores of 116-112, 117-112 and 116-112. It did surpass the first contest in terms of entertainment, though not by much. Both men dug in and tried to swap blows but much of the work throughout the contest was missed as the pair's styles don't make for a decent fight.
Bellew is now set to challenge for the WBC light heavyweight title against the winner of Chad Dawson's defence against Adonis Stevenson, who meet in Canada on June 8.
Other results on the card:
Martin J. Ward TKO 3 Andrew Harris
Callum Smith TKO 1 Ryan Moore
Micki Nielsen TKO 4 Paul Morris
Enrico Koeling PTS 4 Vygaudas Laurinkus
Anthony Yigit PTS 4 Dee Mitchell