Operator: Good afternoon and welcome to the Super Middleweight World Championship conference. Your host, Mr. Bernie Bahrmasel, will now begin.
Bernie Bahrmasel: Good afternoon. Thank you very much for joining us for the U.S. Media Conference Call on behalf of HBO Sports, Matchroom Sport and Team Sauerland.
The highly anticipated rematch between IBF super middleweight champion, Carl Froch and WBA super middleweight champion, Mikkel Kessler will be broadcast live on HBO Saturday, May 25 in from the sold out O2 Arena in London at 6 p.m. Eastern time and 3 p.m. Pacific time with an Encore same day presentation at 10 p.m. Eastern time, 10 p.m. Pacific time.
Those of you who remember, the sensational first bout between these two warriors who battled on April 24, 2010 in Herring, Denmark was won by Mikkel Kessler in a hotly contested war awarded by unanimous decision. I’d like to thank Mikkel Kessler and Kalle Sauerland from Team Saulerland for joining us initially on this call. We’ll be followed later on in the call by Carl Froch and Eddie Hearn from Matchoom Sport.
At this time I would like to turn it over to Kalle Sauerland from Team Sauerland for his opening remarks and to introduce Mikkel Kessler.
Kalle Sauerland: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen or good afternoon, wherever you are. Well the event itself, I don’t think needs much selling. You know, as a promoter you’ve got to talk about this and that but my advice will be just watch the first fight again to give you an appetite for it.
Certainly, in Europe – obviously, especially in Scandinavia and the U.K. the event has captured all imaginations. It’s been a real boost in the arm for boxing, of course. You know, a fight which I believe is not just selling our names but on the product that we bring and that is a great match up, two guys who are eye-to-eye, you know, guys who bring it all in the ring.
And I don’t think we’ll see much difference on May 25th – we know what Carl is going to bring to the ring and Mikkel has been in an excellent training camp, had some very high profile sparring with the likes of WBO light-heavy king, Nathan Cleverly and George Groves, the WBO number one-ranked super middleweight. So we’re in excellent condition. I think Mikkel will talk about that in a minute.
And, you know, from our side, from a promotional side, things going very well. Of course the arena sold out within a day – all 18,000 tickets gone. And we’re looking forward to a great night of boxing. And without further ado I will pass it over to the 5-time world champion, Mikkel Kessler.
Mikkel Kessler: Thank you, Kalle, very much and thank you everyone for having me here. I am – what can I say, I am ready for the second fight with Carl. It’s been, you know, it’s – like I said, I’m 34 now. I’ve with the best in the world and now I have to the fight of my life.
The only one that was bigger, maybe only in triple of a fact, is the fight against Joe Calzaghe when I fought him and now I want to show them that I am the number one and I’m getting better for each time I have since the last fight with Carl Froch. And I can just feel I’m going to take the IBF title. That’s it.
Bernie Bahrmasel: (Alicia), I think we’re ready to open the lines for the US media questions.
Operator: Ladies and gentlemen if you’d like to ask a question please press the number 1 key. Again, if there are any questions at this time please press the number 1 key on your telephone.
We do have a question from Dan Rafael with ESPN. Please go ahead.
Dan Rafael: Hey, guys. My first question is for Mikkel. In the first fight you had that great home field advantage in Denmark for the fight. I’m wondering if you could just talk about your thoughts about that going into the lion’s den of England to take on Froch who has, you know, just as good a support where he’s from as you do, maybe bigger even then where you’re from.
What are your thoughts about that?
Mikkel Kessler: I know it’s – they have a huge fan base, as you mentioned. And – but, you know, I can say that in my first fight I promised Carl that if the fight should ever happen again I’m going to be on his home turf. And I’m a man – a man of my word.
And of course it’s always dangerous to – you know what – I have tried it before – I’m talking Calzaghe against 55,000 people and from this date for me first defense, you know, against Mundine – 33,000 people.
You know, I have tried it before and it was very hard in the start but I feel like I can avoid it now. I don’t feel the pressure and I know I have a lot of fans. I don’t know. Maybe enough of my fan’s coming to England.
So, you know, it doesn’t matter that much, of course. You’ve got to have, in the first couple of rounds you’ve got to shake it off and then I’ll be more ready.
Dan Rafael: Do you figure, Mikkel, that that experience that you mentioned about going to Wales and fighting Calzhage, even though you didn’t win that fight but also, like you said, Mundine in Australia in front of, you know, his very vocal crowd – that that experience level will make it so. It’s just another fight, that you’ll be calm and not over-excited or caught up in the moment of being, you know, in that kind of atmosphere?
Mikkel Kessler: Exactly, exactly. You know, I, like you said, experience – I have tried it before and I know what I am going into. I know I am going to a huge crowd and a great venue – the O2 Arena.
And you know what, I’ve got to just be cool and do as I’m used to doing. And, you know, Kalle – I listen to Jim Montoya, my trainer, and what we have been training on. And that’s – I know it’s going to succeed and I have a very good game plan for this fight.
So, you know, I’ve never been in the best – not be in so good shape like I am now. I am – I feel I am on my peak and nothing that can go wrong.
Dan Rafael: I think what most people remember from the first fight was that last round where most people thought that that fight was sort of on the table at that point, that it could’ve still been up for grabs for either boxer to win the fight.
Do you figure that this fight will just begin sort of where that left off? Because it was – it was a while ago. Or is it going to take a little bit of time to sort of get to know each other again, so to speak?
Mikkel Kessler: Now of course you can say that the new thing about this fight is we have fought before. It’s really three years ago, of course, but I remember we had long rounds and I – that I assumed and there are lots of things, you know. And I’ve never tried, in my whole professional career, I never tried to fight the same guy again.
So that’s why we have to make a different game plan and, as people say. And we’re going to take off where we left, of course, it would be stupid. You know what – some people say that maybe it will go over sixty seconds. It can go five minutes or it can go to a round.
But, of course, we both want to win the – both want to win the fight and I think we are still hungry even though we are with our age that it’s different than the 21, 22 or 24 when I won the first WBA title. So, of course, it’s different but I also think that I have to have more experience.
Of course I also think that Carl’s going to come very strong and hard, you know. And so I’ve got to be prepared. I’ve got to have a Plan A, B, C and D. So I have a plan for everything.
Dan Rafael: Okay, also just one other thing. You guys, both, in the course of the Super Six Tournament had to drop out because of the injury, but you lost to Andre Ward. Carl ended up losing it in the finals to Andre Ward in the title fight.
I’m wondering, is your – I know you want to win the fight against Carl, unify those titles and get, you know, make sure you go up 2-0 on him from what happened in the first fight. But is your goal ultimately to beat Froch and so you can get another fight with Andre Ward and have a rematch with him?
Mikkel Kessler: No, I don’t think about Ward at all. I want to think about Carl, you know. He’s the kind of fighter who wants to fight.
It’s a very different kind of fight. I wasn’t there that day everything went wrong. I also – we also learned about that, me and Kalle. And when you are fighting not on your home turf then you’ve got to also have a lot of other things clear before you go over.
So it’s all – only about boxing for you. You learn that – you learn from, on each fight, what – I’ve never thought about Ward yet. I’m – my thoughts go to Carl Froch and training for him. And after that fight we can talk about Ward.
Dan Rafael: Very good. Thanks a lot, Mikkel. Good luck on the fight. I’m looking forward to this one. Appreciate it, guys.
Mikkel Kessler: Okay, thank you.
Bernie Bahrmasel: Thank you, Dan.
Operator: The next question is from Keith Idec at The Record. Please go ahead.
Keith Idec: Mikkel, just wondering if you could tell me what your thoughts on the Froch-Bute fight were and were you surprised at how easily Froch – Carl was able to beat Lucian Bute?
Mikkel Kessler: You know, I’ve seen Bute – a lot of his fights. I was there for his fight with Bute and nothing had – you know what, he has a big crowd, of course and that, you know, then – we make room – I can’t explain how it was but it wasn’t a complete Bute – he was very nervous.
He had to stand outside until round two, I guess, and he looked nervous. But, you know, Bute is a very good fighter. You can’t take that away from him.
And he’s smart, he’s clever. But you have to fight his game, but Carl did beat him. I thought Carl would have problems before the first round.
But when you don’t fight Bute’s way it’s going to be Carl’s fight and that’s why there were two rounds. He hit him with the first punch and he never got over that. So I think he’s a bit over-rated in some respects, Bute.
But of course he had some good wins too and I’m looking forward to seeing him fight again.
Keith Idec: You’ve obviously been in a situation where you lost to someone and wanted to fight them again. And obviously Carl is in the situation where he has wanted to fight you again since you beat him. Are you surprised that Bute has kind of gone in a different direction where – in terms of not really pursuing the rematch against Carl which he had a contractual commitment for?
Are you surprised that he went in a different direction and didn’t really pursue the fight again?
Mikkel Kessler: Yes, I know how it is – how there have been what they have been talking about – how much of shock it had to come to Bute for the loss there. It can happen to a good fighter. That’s how boxing is.
But of course I would have gone after it, you know. Like I would have loved to fight Calzaghe and I want to fight Ward again. Of course it was Super Six and that injury and I thought my career was over after that.
But maybe he knows he can’t beat him or something like that and then say okay, I can’t beat this guy. Maybe I’m going to go another direction.
I don’t know, really, what he is planning so I can’t really say too much. But I would have gone after Froch again. Or maybe – maybe it was too early for Bute. Maybe he had some – had to do some more training in a long period.
Keith Idec: Okay. But it worked out for you, obviously. That’s how you guys were able to come together so quickly, right?
Mikkel Kessler: What?
Keith Idec: I said here’s an opportunity – his not fighting Froch again obviously worked out for you because you were able to get Carl, right?
Mikkel Kessler: Yes, of course. Like I said, Carl needs to have a rematch.
Keith Idec: Sure.
Mikkel Kessler: He came to Denmark, I’m going to come to England.
Kalle Sauerland: Let me say something, as Mikkel’s promoter, on – a little bit about Ward.
Kalle Sauerland: Look we spoke to Dan Goossen. We spoke to him about a Ward fight. There wasn’t much interest to come to Denmark.
Now the first fight was one of those fights where, you know, Ward had a good night. Mikkel had a terrible night but all three cuts on his face were not caused by punches. You can look – sort of look at the replay to look at that.
Well we’re not going to moan and groan about it but the fight out there is the Froch-Kessler fight and that is a fight which has captured imaginations and sold tickets. I don’t see Ward selling tickets. And both guys, Froch and Kessler, are, in their own right, stars in their countries.
I think it’s time for Ward, you know, eventually to go and travel and to do things that these guys have already done. So, you know, but as I said, we’re talking about Froch-Kessler at the moment and, you know, after that we’ll see what happens.
Operator: All right. Our next question is from Briggs Seekins with the Bleacher Report. Please go ahead.
Briggs Seekins: Yes, hi Mikkel. I’m wondering what you think has changed for you, as a fighter, in the last three years since the fight and how much, you know, could you speak a little more in terms of a benefit it may have been to you as this sparring with some really young undefeated, you know, hungry guys like Groves and Cleverly.
Mikkel Kessler: Yes, of course. The best experience I had after all these years is one thing and another thing, you know, I thought my career was over when I had my eye injury. And it, you know, it put some thoughts through your head, you know – is it really over, what can I do and when – especially last time when I hadn’t boxed for a while.
I had to show the people, and myself and, you know, I had to show them that I know I can do a lot better. And if I’d lost to Froch then I would’ve said okay, that’s it, I’m finished boxing, you know. But I feel like I had so much experience I had to even try to a different trainer.
Now as a chief trainer, you know what – we – every fight I had, like another and this reporter asked me you’ve only gone 30 rounds and Carl’s gone 40 rounds or what it is in those fights. Where you haven’t been boxing what – does it scare you? No, it doesn’t scare me because we made a good game plan for every fight I fought.
I have to say – I would say the reaction has me concentrating on my new punches. It’s 35 to 1. I’d say this experience is a big benefit for me for this fight.
Briggs Seekins: And could you just speak maybe a little bit of what do you feel like as a fighter? What do you think – how do you think it benefits you working with, you know, getting good sparring rounds with the younger guys – these younger up-and-coming fighters?
Mikkel Kessler: Well of course there are many of them. Yes, of course and, you know, those younger guys, they have – they’re very hungry and you’re just sparring partners but they’re just coming first time. They’re still very good. They maybe don’t have the same hunger that Cleverly and Groves have, you know, and it’s great they’re undefeated and they want to show me that they can beat me.
And, you know, that – that gives you a lot of energy and it gives you a lot of things to work on. This time with Sauerland – we have to – with my side along with Jim Montoya and they’re going to look at my mistakes and what I need to get better at then.
And that’s why I say I’m at my peak now and I’m doing everything so good. I feel I’m getting fast on my feet and fast on my hands so I can, yes, I can change my plans now that I couldn’t do before. So it gave me maybe – it gave me a lot on that side.
Operator: We have a question from Gabriel Montoya at Maxboxing.com. Please go ahead.
Gabriel Montoya: Hi, Mikkel. I was curious, since this is your first time sparring twice for an opponent, can you talk about the differences? Or do you think that Carl has changed much from the first time you fought him, studying him, to now?
Mikkel Kessler: You know, I really don’t think so. He’s maybe, yes, a lot I say it – a lot – a confidence side and he has a lot of – he trusts himself a lot, you know, what he’s doing and he’s basically strong and even in the loss to me and he still worked on it and came back. So that’s good. I don’t think he really has changed anything in his boxing style.
He’s still got the same mistakes and he’s still awkward and, in his way, you know, that’s his sparring style. But yet he’s still got some flaws that I would say that – very bad ones. So you can’t say it’s a new style. It’s just a more confident style.
Gabriel Montoya: Was there anything that you missed the first time that you caught the second time – when you were studying him?
Mikkel Kessler: Yes – no, it’s – you know what, I have a trainer here. He watches his – all fights all day long. And we talk about it, you know – what he does there and what he does here.
But he really doesn’t change much. But I just have to remember when I fought him the first time that – the first time how I got hit and why I got hit and try to do it different way this time.
Gabriel Montoya: Do you think – I mean, looking at the Super Six, this is all about style. You know, each style kind of matched up differently, that’s what boxing is. Because of your – his awkward style, is that what makes him so difficult and why the first fight was so difficult for you guys because he’s such an off-rhythm and kind of awkward fighter?
Mikkel Kessler: Yes, he’s a difficult fighter, you know, and I said to Kalle, I said he’s actually a slow fighter – not so fast but he’s – he’s so awkward so sometimes, really, that you would stab him and next thing I can have him right here in front of me but then he’s gone and then you can’t hit him. And then he just holds you you know.
It’s, you know, it’s – he’s difficult in a strange way – if you can say it like that. But now, you know, we’ve been training and we have for 3 months for him and I’m fit and fast so – and, of course, sparring partners who also have some awkward styles. And then some active tactics as much as possible.
Gabriel Montoya: This being – when you take about this being – and correct me if I’m wrong here – your very first rematch as a professional – can you talk about how that is different from all the other times you prepared for a fight? Is it different?
Mikkel Kessler: Yes, it is. It is. You know, the first time and want to fight the same guy again and you know how he fights. But of course when you’re in the fight you don’t remember so much of it.
And then you come down, you found out what has been and so we don’t remember so much – I don’t remember so much of the – only little pieces of the fight. But, of course, you have to go back and see so what did I do there and.
And so it’s – its – I remember, he had long arms and I got hit with the left sometimes and I couldn’t understand because he had a longer reach than I thought he had. So now I know he had this reach, to take an example. So now I’ve got to keep my head a little way from that long reach.
Gabriel Montoya: But the difference between going someplace for the first time. And now you have a map insofar as where to go and so forth…
Mikkel Kessler: Yes.
Gabriel Montoya: …this time around.
Mikkel Kessler: Right. Yes, exactly. A kind of…
Gabriel Montoya: Excellent.
Mikkel Kessler: …better game plan than number one.
Gabriel Montoya: Well, excellent. Thank you so much and I wish you all the luck.
Mikkel Kessler: Thank you very much.
Operator: we do have another question from Harry at The Ring. Please go ahead.
Harry Pratt: Hi, Mikkel. How are you doing? I wanted to talk one thing. You’ve got sort of superstar status back home in Denmark and I was – I was just wondering what tempted you to put it all on the line against Carl once again because he wants to fight because, obviously, he wants to get revenge for what happened last time.
You won – and I’m just wondering how you got zeroed in to such a big fight.
Mikkel Kessler: You know what, I promised Carl that I would give him a rematch and it’s, you know, we had a talk about it, fighting again one day. And here we are.
And, of course, also talk about Joe Calzaghe – I’m going to – I never got a rematch. And he took off and I can remember – I just hope he will come back and take that rematch against me, but he didn’t.
And like Joe told me, it was my not night tonight. You’re not going to get this chance again. And I think it’s good – and I lost and it was fine, everything was for that.
I never had the rematch, you know. Of course it’s dangerous to give Carl a rematch and – but, you know, I have something in me that I have to show the boxing fans around the world. I know it’s going to be tough.
I know it’s going to be a tough fight and – but you – I have to show me – I have to be a man about this. You know, how it is and he will probably talk about it, you know, if I put my gloves away tomorrow in boxing he’ll say he never gave me that rematch, you know.
I heard it from different places and so it’s just like Sugar Ray Leonard and Hearns and so on. I heard about them. And so it’s, you know – and this is the fight also – it’s a fight I want to fight also, I think.
You know, it’s with Carl and he’s a new champion. And he took Lucian Bute. People didn’t know he was going to do that and it will be a great win for me and one more belt. So it’s all for that.
Harry Pratt: Just one more point. Obviously, in London, on that same day we’ve got this champion’s league football finals…
Mikkel Kessler: Yes.
Harry Pratt: …which, I assume you’re a big soccer fan, coming from Denmark.
Mikkel Kessler: Yes, I know a little bit but lately…
Harry Pratt: …and we have 80,000 Germans coming to Wembley.
Mikkel Kessler: Yes?
Harry Pratt: We’ve got at least 5000 from Denmark. We’ve got another – it’s going to be one great big weekend of sports, isn’t it, in London?
Mikkel Kessler: Yes. Yes, a lot of people are really excited for the football and for the fight.
Harry Pratt: Yes, I was just – it’s great that boxing is such a big part of such a big day, isn’t it?
Mikkel Kessler: Yes, well like Kalle told me, let’s see how many tickets are going to be sold and who’s going to watch the boxing. But, you know, that’s, especially when you have football fans and your soccer fans. And you have boxing fans but a lot of them are going to the soccer – to the final and then they want to come straight over to watch the fight.
Kalle Sauerland: That’s something we’ve done before, we boxed last year against Allan Green on the same night as the Champion League final as well.
But let me explain a little bit better the background -the broadcasters love it because you have a – you have this captive sports audience right here in front of the screen and, you know, a real sort of – without being too sexist -a guys’ weekend, you know, or a guys’ Saturday night.
You know, first of all the Champions League finals followed by the big fight. You know, it’s certainly one that’s filled this void in the past.
Harry Pratt: Well, I know everyone’s excited about it over here, that’s for sure.
Bernie Bahrmasel: That’s all the time we have for Mikkel and Kalle. I’ll thank Kalle Sauerland and Mikkel Kessler for their time. Did you want any last comments?
Mikkel Kessler: Thank you very much.
Kalle Sauerland: Just that we’re looking forward to it.
Bernie Bahrmasel: Fantastic, thank you gentlemen. I believe on the line now we have Eddie Hearn from Matchroom Sport and Carl Froch
Eddie Hearn: Okay, obviously, you know, from outside I heard what Kalle and Mikkel had to say and I’m sure a lot of what I say will mirror that as well over here.
Eddie Hearn: But you know, mirroring from what Kalle said, you know, obviously when you’re do an event, as a promoter, you hope it’s as big as you think it is. And to sell, you know, 18,000 tickets in three hours was incredible.
And you just don’t have events at that size in the U.K. anymore and it’s a joy to bring it to London and the U.K., obviously a return to pay-per-view for Matchroom Sports anticipating big numbers. I’m sure Kalle has told you over 100 countries taking it live as well and obviously you would like it to be live on HBO.
And I think Mikkel captured something that was very important, which was Carl’s confidence, and that’s really since the Bute fight I’ve noticed that Carl has become, you know, a different man really. And I think part of that is because he’s been accepted as a real superstar in the U.K.
He’s become the number one fighter and he’s become a huge star and I think he bounces off that. And, you know, I’ve never seen him so confident going into a fight as he is for this one. And I think, you know, Mikkel is the same.
You know, everything I’m hearing out of both camps is that both camps have been fantastic. Both guys are in great shape and this is a proper fight. You know, fights like this you don’t really see enough of. It’s, you know – we can’t wait.
Bernie Bahrmasel Again, the times of the broadcast Saturday, May 25 from the sold out 02 Arena in London, England on HBO will be at 6 p.m. Eastern Time, 3 p.m. Pacific Time, with an Encore Same Day presentation at 10 p.m. Eastern Time, 10 p.m. Pacific Time. That’s Saturday, May 25 live from the 02 Arena in London, England, the highly anticipated rematch with IBF super middleweight Champion, Carl Froch and WBA super middleweight champion, Mikkel Kessler.
Bernie Bahrmasel: Thank you for joining us Carl and Eddie. First question from Harry Pratt of Ring Magazine.
Harry Pratt: Carl, we’ve just been chatting with Mikkel. He’s been talking about how he’s been trying an A, B, C, D plan and I’m just wondering how you’re looking at that and do you have the same sort of strategy going in, because obviously you caught it before, and how do you prepare for that sort of thing.
Carl Froch: I don’t know about any A, B, C, D plan, but I think it’s ridiculous for Mikkel You can change your game depending on what you’re opponent’s doing anyway.
I mean, if you’re a top fighter and somebody’s pushing you back and trying to fight you, then you’ve got to go and you get behind your jab, if you can. If not, you’ve got to stand and meet him.
I think plan A for every fight is to out jab your opponent. Hit your opponent with shorter range and not get hit back, that’s always plan A, and then plan B comes then when, you know, if you need to stand aside. The plan A, B, C, D I’m just saying that is ridiculous. I think – I’m going to do it the way we just did it, which means just hitting him with more shots and getting hit as little as possible, simple as that really.
Harry Pratt: Okay, and I mean obviously, if he comes in with an slightly different strategy or whatever, is that something you adapt to and you’re able to as it were.
Carl Froch: It’s my job as a fighter to do what I need to do to win. So whatever he does – whatever he brings on the night, then that’s what I think – I’ve got to effectively counter it and do what I need to do so I’ll win. But, I mean, all these plans and – Plan A, B, C, and D is kind of rubbish, to be honest.
I don’t get involved in all that. I want to box and do the job so I’ll win and that’s it, simple as that.
Harry Pratt: And Okay, last question for me at the moment. Obviously this is the fight I know you’ve been wanting ever since, probably, you lost last time. And as the week – next week, it gets closer and everything, it’s going to be an incredible atmosphere in the U.K. because of the Champions League and your master fight that night.
How do you as an individual keep yourself composed and not get too pumped up? I mean is there a danger of that?
Carl Froch: No, so I come I’m a professional so I know what to expect. So, I know what I need to do and I’m very sort of cool, calm, and collected and very experienced in this game now.
Mikkel Kessler’s very similar. I mean, he’s had a lot of fights – a lot of top-level fights but I think he’ll be very excited. It’s obviously a big occasion, but it’s nothing to get all worked up about really.
Harry Pratt: Okay, and it must feel great that boxing is right on a par with the football in the U.K. I mean it shows how big this sport is over here doesn’t it?
Carl Froch: Yes, that’s fantastic. You’ve got Champions League final; you’ve got the British players teams in the final. But obviously we’ve got – you’ve got Champion League final in London, which is great.
And then obviously we’ve got Sky Sports and then we’ve got Sky Sport box office boxing, the biggest fight of the decade between myself and Mikkel Kessler. It’s a big weekend. It’s exciting and it’s great for sports.
Without sports – I don’t think – the world wouldn’t be what it is without sports. Sports are just fantastic – all top-level sports are great. Obviously I’m bias towards boxing because boxing is what I do.
So, it’s going to be a fantastic weekend and, I mean, the fight with myself and Mikkel Kessler is going to be big. It’s going to be a good fight. It’s going to be what everyone looks back on in years to come and say remember that one – that was a cracker. That is a proper big fight between two warriors that leave it all in the ring. I’m excited to be apart of and involved in it all.
Harry Pratt: Thank you, cheers Carl.
Carl Froch: Pleasure.
Operator: Our next question is from Dan Rafael at ESPN. Please go ahead.
Dan Rafael: Thank you. Hello Carl, good to talk to you.
Carl Froch: Hi.
Dan Rafael: Carl, I was talking to Mikkel when he was on his portion of the call about the fact that in your first fight, you were the one that went to Denmark to face him in his home country, came up a little bit short on the score card. This time you have the home court advantage. Being in London, you have so many great fans that turn out for your fights.
I wonder if you could talk about the difference in your mentality of having to go into the opponent’s hometown and put on your performance as opposed to what you may be feeling or thinking about as you come into your own arena with your own crowd going crazy and trying to control your own emotions and deal with that aspect of the fight.
Carl Froch: I think the mindset needs to be the same. I think being at home or being away from home affects you. If you’re away from home it can affect you a little bit negatively.
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, you know, 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 you’re opponent is letting shots go, you know, 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.
My mindset’s going to be the same, my preparation’s going to be the same, it’s just – it’s going to help on the night being at home I think – especially in front of 18,000, I mean I don’t know what that’s going to feel like because I’ve never boxed in front of such a big crowd. I’m looking forward to it.
Dan Rafael: Well I was going to say to you, when you fought Lucian Bute, I believe the crowd was a little over 8 or 9,000, and, you know, being ringside for that, it felt like about 50,000 the way that the crowd was. I’m wondering when – you know, this is a much bigger arena, I think probably about double the capacity.
Carl Froch: Exactly.
Dan Rafael: Do you think that – which do you think is going to be bigger? Because when you fought Bute, it was a really, really pumped up excited crowd. I mean it reminded me of, you know – even though with fewer people, it was like a Ricky Hatton kind of crowd when he had his big fights in Las Vegas.
Carl Froch: Yes.
Dan Rafael: Do you think this is going to be a more party like atmosphere? Or what’s your take on the way that the fans are viewing this fight compared to when you had the opportunity to win the title you won against Bute?
Carl Froch: I think very similar because when I fought Bute, a lot of people thought that it was going to be a very hard night’s work for me and maybe expected me to lost because of what had just happened with Andre Ward. Because I dominated from the start, everybody sort of got excited and thought bloody hell, I didn’t expect this, this is fantastic and everyone got in the zone.
Now, obviously they’re all excited – I think everybody’ that’s is in Nottingham, they’re going to be at the 02. So you’re going to have the same crowd plus probably the non-boxing fan or the crossover fan that’s not really that interested in boxing but they’re there because it’s a big event and a big occasion. So they’ll be a little bit more reserved and not so party and not so bias towards me.
So, here are all these cheerers and I fully expect 90% of the crowd to be cheering for me, but I just don’t know what to expect. However the atmosphere was in Nottingham, which was unbelievable as you said, it was very sort of electric, it’s going to be that times at least bloody two – it’s going to be two times that because it’s a two times big arena. It’s going to be unbelievable-phenomenal, I can’t wait. It’s going to be electric.
Dan Rafael: Now, the other thing I asked Mikkel about was, if you think back to the first fight that you had with him, I think what most people probably recall was, you know, aside from it being a very good fight, probably the best fight of the entire super six, really with that twelfth round when you guys really let it all hang out, the fight seemed to be up for grabs a that point.
You both really went for just, you know, one of the rounds of the year that year. So, my question is when you step in the ring for the fight on May 25, do you feel like that the fight the start is going to start with a bang right off the get go picking up where that left off?
Or because it’s been a few years since that fight, that it’ll be another sort of process where you guys get to know each other a little bit better and the fight will build and build and build like it did the first time?
Carl Froch: I think we’re going to both stick behind our jab and try and win the battle of the jabs early on because that what any sensible boxer does. If he comes out and tries to steam roll me early on or vice versa, you’re in big danger of walking on to a shot so that will be a silly tactic. But I know what you’re saying, pick the fight up where we left off, but it was three years ago.
And we could say this is round 13 but it’s what you said early on. But it wont be long, Dan, before we’re in punching range trying to prove a point, trying to send in a message, and trying to let the judges and everybody know that, you know, I’m here to win this fight, or that’s the way that I’m going to be doing it anyway.
And so, I think give it two or three rounds – touchy feely if you like, but I’m going to be sending in big shots like against Bute early on, so it just depends on how he responds. I know he likes to come out and take us into the ring and try and back his opponents up. And that’s what he did to me in the first fight because I was flat footed and I was tired, I was letting him throwing the right hand to the body.
But this year is going to be totally different, it’s going to be none of that this time, he’s going to be shocked. People are going to be shocked.
Dan Rafael: One thing about you guys is that even though both of you talk extremely confident about the way you’re going to fight and that you believe you’ll win the fight – one thing I’ve noticed, and not just in this conference call but also in some of the press releases and the comments I’ve seen in interviews, you guys are very respectful toward each other, not a lot of smack talk between you guys.
I get the feeling, frankly, that you guys kind of like each other a little bit and you guys are really respectful to each other.
Carl Froch: Yes we’ve got a lot of respect for each other and he’s, you know – I’ve got a lot of respect for him and I’m sure it’s equally reciprocated. But that’s because we’ve shared the ring for 12 fantastic rounds and we don’t talk rubbish outside the ring about each other and we – there’s no slacking match, there’s no need to, and there’s no need for it anyway, there’s.
You know-when you fight other people in the past-I wont mention any names – it starts getting stupid and come across as arrogant and, you know, you fight fire with fire. Somebody told you that and then you tell them no you’re not, I’m going to do this to you, and before you know it you’ve got war of the words going on.
I think that the very fact that we’re both fighters and we’re both manly men, and we’re both honest, genuine, down to earth people, which is what we are.
I think it comes across in our interviews. It comes across in the ring when we fight and you know we’re in there just doing our best, trying to win, both of us. And we’re both very tough, we can both fight, we can both box a bit, and we both want the same end goal.
So, you know, this could make for a dangerous night for both of us, you know, it’s going to be vicious, it’s going to be brutal, it’s going to be – it’s going to be getting nasty in there but there’s no real hatred, it’s just in the love-in the name of a good honest working class sport called boxing, the sport I love.
Dan Rafael: Have you been preparing for this fight Carl? Have you heard the chatter from Bernard Hopkins about him saying he’d like to fight you in the future if you are successful, to give you an opportunity to fight for his light heavyweight title? And if you have, what are your thoughts about that? I know you got the fight with Mikkel…
Carl Froch: Yes, I’ve heard that and, you know, I look up to Bernard Hopkins, I think he’s a great ambassador for the sport. I think he’s been around too long, but he’s still doing it so you can’t knock him for it. And, you know, one day in the future, it would be an honor to fight somebody like that.
I feel I know how to beat him. But it’s one step at a time, but I’ll you know, I’m not a light heavyweight, so he’s going to have to come down to a catch weight. I don’t expect him to do super middle, but don’t expect me to do light heavyweight.
Dan Rafael: Got you. Thank you very much Carl. Good luck in the fight against Mikkel, I appreciate your time.
Carl Froch: Thank you very much. Pleasure.
Operator: Our next question is from Keith Idec with The Record. Keith, go ahead.
Keith Idec: Hi Carl, when we had Mikkel on the phone before, I asked him about why he thought that Lucian Bute may have gone in a different direction as opposed to fighting you again, you know, trying to redeem himself from the first fight and he said that he thought that maybe Bute knew that he couldn’t beat you. I was wondering what your perspective on that was and if you think eventually that fight might happen – the rematch might happen again or not.
Carl Froch: No, I agree with Mikkel. I think Bute knows he can’t beat me. I think he knows I’m too strong or too tough for him and a rematch will only end in the same way. I know that he can’t take it; I know that my punches hurt him a lot.
So I think a rematch would probably be an easier fight for me. Especially now that mentally he’s a broken man. So, I think he needs to go to light heavyweight and do what he’s trying to do now, maybe fight a fight with someone like Pascal.
I know he’s injured, which is unfortunate, but he needs to stay well clear of me. And I think that’s the reason the fight didn’t happen because he didn’t want it to happen.
Keith Idec: You’ve obviously fought Pascal as well, when they eventually do fight, who do you think will win?
Carl Froch: It’s hard to call because I wasn’t that impressed with Pascal against Hopkins in his return. I thought he was too muscle bulk. I thought he got tired early on because of his skeletal muscle bulk.
Yes, I thought that it was – it was blowing like, I don’t know him as a person, I don’t know if he lives clean, I don’t know if he trains like he should-I know he’s got an injury on his shoulder. I don’t think Bute is the same fighter he was now after losing to me in such a spectacular manner.
And I’m not sure at all how serious young Pascal is about the game because I’ve not heard or seen anything from him since he lost to Hopkins. So, it could be an even fight. It could be one to pick.
I wouldn’t like to pick a winner to that one. I think given the fight that Pascal gave me in 2008 – back in December 2008, I think Pascal beat Lucian Bute, but that was five years ago – well 4 and a half years ago
So, you know, things change, times change and it’s hard to pick a winner if I’m totally honest. If you were going to push me off a cliff – pick a winner and you got to get it right or you’re going off that cliff, I’d probably pick Pascal.
Keith Idec: Okay, I won’t push you off a cliff. I just want to ask you another question. How gratifying is it for you, you know, to be in the situation that you’re in now, Carl, where you’ve sold out an 18,000 seat building in three hours and you’ve become the kind of star in England that I know you’ve always wanted to be. How great has that been for you?
Carl Froch: It feels really, really good and it feels satisfying and humbling as well to finally get the recognition and acknowledgement of the career that I’ve had for the last 10 years – the last 11 years. And the world title fighter back to back again, such a high caliber of position is now finally being recognized and looked at.
People saw the Bute fight and they thought to themselves wow – that was a good fight, he just beat an unbeaten fighter there. He lost to Ward and then he’s gone and done that. Who is it, people that didn’t watch Carl Froch before – I don’t like to talk to in third person.
But people who didn’t watch me before, they’re going to say all right, lets have a look at Carl Froch now and then they’re going back and they’re seeing the Jean Pascal, and the Jermaine Taylor, and the Andre Dirrell, and the Arthur Abraham and they’re thinking wow, what a fighter this guy is. He puts it all on the line, he leaves it in the right, he takes on all comers.
And I think that’s now why it’s spiraled, not out of control, but it’s spiraled to the point where I’m getting the love now which is very nice, very nice. But, you know, I don’t put myself out there and expect anything, I think I’m just getting what my career demands based on what I’ve done, and I think I’ve done a fantastic job with high caliber opposition.
I’ve not won them all. I’m not undefeated but you know, I bounce back and I come back fighting and stay strong and that’s what people love. People love a fighter and people love somebody who picks themselves up off the floor and comes back after a defeat.
It’s like Rocky Balboa said, it’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how you get yourself back up and come back and keep coming back. And, you know, I’ve lost a couple of close fights, one to Kessler, one to Ward, but I’ve never been out-classed.
I got beat on points by a guy who’s now ranked number two in the world pound for pound, and the Mikkel Kessler fight, if that fight would have been on British soil, same punches landed, same fight, I would’ve got the decision.
And so, you know, I’ve lost really one fight to a guy called Andre Ward who is kind of clever at winning fights, you know, he knows what he’s doing, he knows how to win, he’s very effective. Like I said before, he’ll put a glass eye to sleep with his style.
Keith Idec: I’ve just got one last question for you. How long of a drive is it from Nottingham to London?
Carl Froch: Nottingham to London, depending on the traffic, two and a half hours. It’s about 110 miles.
Keith Idec: Thank you very much.
Carl Froch: You can Google it if you want.
Eddie Hearn: I just want to say thanks to everybody, looking forward to seeing those coming to London and, you know, we’ve been on the call for one hour and it’s very refreshing to see two guys – no smack talk, no animosity.
They both want to beat each other, a lot of respect for both guys. We’re looking forward to, like Carl said, the biggest even in the U.K. seen in many years.
Bernie Bahrmasel: Thank you for your time Eddie and Carl for joining us on this call. Again, thank you to the U.S. media for joining us. This highly anticipated rematch between IBF super middleweight world champion, Carl Froch and WBA super middleweight champion, Mikkel Kessler, will be broadcast live on HBO Saturday, May 25 in the sold-out 02 Arena in London, England.
The live broadcast will begin at 6 p.m. Eastern time, 3 p.m. Pacific Time, with an Encore Same Day presentation at 10 p.m. Eastern time, 10 p.m. Pacific Time. Thank you again very much for joining us, this concludes our call. Have a great day.