Carl Froch v Mikkel Kessler II : Talks underway…

By Lewis Croft: Carl ‘The Cobra’ Froch created yet another exciting chapter in the story of one of Britain’s greatest boxing exports. The three-time world champion stunned the world and silenced the critics in sensationally stopping undefeated, Canadian based Romanian, Lucian Bute to add the IBF title to his ever growing list of achievements.

For many years, Froch was an unsung hero. Outside of his native Nottingham, the name Carl Froch was yet to become a household name.. That all changed when he became WBC champion and in one of the most dramatic final rounds, against all odds he stopped Jermaine Taylor in his own back yard successfully defending his title for the first time and establishing himself to a worldwide audience.
Since then, the Cobra has not look back and has faced the best of the best accumulating in a CV that rivals the great throwback fighters of yesteryear.

Following his loss to Andre Ward out in Atlantic City in the final of the Super Six Boxing Classic, many people would be sympathetic for Froch in taking a much easier ‘Homecoming bout’. But over the years, Froch has established himself as a man who does not do things easy. His willingness to travel and defend his titles has earned him respect throughout the boxing world. Undefeated IBF champion, Lucian Bute, a man many claimed that alongside Andre Ward was the best fighter in the division was now in sights of the Cobra. To still be considered as one of the best fighters, Froch knew that beating someone like Lucian Bute would put him back up at the top.

Rumours surfaced on the internet before this fight was announced, that there would be some kind of home and away type stipulation placed within the contract. My understanding was that in the event of a close decision in Nottingham , a return bout would be held in Canada. In the situation were by a knockout has occurred (i.e Saturday night) then this stipulation would not be enforced.

Eddie Hearn, Head of Matchroom boxing and promoter of Carl Froch, revealed that they are contractually obligated to take the rematch with Lucian Bute in Canada, despite dethroning the champion in the 5th round.
Nevertheless despite such a clause being put in place, would Bute and his time want to step back in the ring against the man who despite all odds, brutally ripped the title away from him and handing him such a beating in front of the world that ended his undefeated streak.

Credit given were credit is due, Bute as the champion did not have to travel into the ‘lions den’. Fighters today and promoters alike, are too conscious of maintaining the ‘0’ of their fighters. I don’t want to go into the politics side and suggest that Bute was a protected fighter that did not want to fight the best out there but his omission from the Super Six Boxing Classic Tournament did raise one or two eyebrows and effectively left him with very limited opponents.

Carl Froch, Andre Ward, Andre Dirrell, Arthur Abraham, Jermaine Taylor (replaced by Allan Green, following KO defeat to Arthur Abraham.) ,Mikkel Kessler (replaced by Glen Johnson after group stage 2.) were all involved within the tournament in some form or another and as a result the best was put against the best.

In comparison, fighters such as Andrade, Miranda, Magee and Mendy although good fighters in their own right, in terms of being top in the division and ‘elite level’ fighters, well they fall short in this area. When you compare the level of opposition that both Froch and Bute have shared a ring with, Froch is certainly a league above. Consecutively, fight after fight, Froch has fought the best fighters in the world yet was a huge underdog going into his championship fight with Lucian Bute.

Also you got to give testament to the conditioning of Lucian Bute. The fact that several times in the bout Bute looked like he was out on his feet yet was able to survive this punishment and even attempt to mix it up with Froch, shows that the man was well conditioned. But at the end of the fourth, his legs were no longer working in accordance with his head and heart. He was helped to his corner and in effect the writing was already on the wall. The packed out Nottingham arena could smell blood and ‘The Cobra’ was going to strike once and for all. His head snapping back from a furious right hand, the onslaught continued with Bute sinking into the ropes, the referee seemingly stopped the contest. In a bizarre string of events, Eddie Hearn ran into the ring to congratulate Froch but despite Bute clearly in no shape to continue, the ref began to count before his team come to collect there wounded man.

With talks of retirement looming before the Bute bout those fears now seem as distant as ever. With many options out there for Carl Froch, the world, well its oyster. Many websites are now reporting that talks are underway between Eddie Hearn and Kalle Sauerland promoter of Mikkel Kessler.

It seems that both camps are interested in making a return bout between the two fighters, with the most likely venue to be in England. Kessler was ringside to watch the devastation Carl Froch caused to Lucian Bute and stated that he would be willing to travel to England this time around.

Froch and Kessler went to war in Denmark back in 2010. In what can only be described as a thrilling encounter, the type of fight that left you on the edge of your seat, Kessler picked up the win in a close gruelling contest, which still to this day is disputed by ‘The Cobra’.

For Carl Froch, there is a chance to avenge an earlier loss and set the record straight, for the ‘Viking Warrior’ there is a chance to pick up yet another world title and attempt to establish himself as the top 168lb fighter in the world.

For me, this is the most logical fight for the Cobra. There is no point in an ‘easy’ defence as such against a lesser opponent. His stock has risen around the world, he is a throwback fighter willing to fight the best of the best.

Interestingly he is not the only fighter who expressed his desire to fight Carl Froch. Former Undisputed Middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik has through his name into the hat. Since his troubles outside the ring he has knuckled down to training in Oxnard with Robert Garcia, where he looks to get his once great career back on track. Since his comeback, has Kelly Pavlik beaten anyone of note to warrant a title shot? Simply put, no he has not. It’s a fight that may have possible interest down the line, when and if Kelly Pavlik can establish himself as a creditable contender in the division. Maybe Pavlik v Bute somewhere down the line could be a possibility, who knows.

Domestically, there are still some fighters in Britain who would like a chance at Carl Froch. Current WBO Light-heavyweight champion, Nathan Cleverly has tried to goad Froch into stepping up to the light-heavyweight division for a ‘Battle of Britain’. Personally, for me, I feel Nathan Cleverly should fight Tony Bellew in his next fight. There first encounter was a classic and I felt Bellew did enough to take the contest and certainly enough to warrant a rematch. But no doubt a Froch v Cleverly fight would sell well in Britain but with the Cobra seemingly making the 168lb Super-Middle weight limit relatively comfortable and with big fights still available in the division, it’s not a likely bout.

Similarly, British champion George Groves, who recently pulled out of his world title challenge against Robert Steglez has placed his interest to fight Carl Froch. Now I know Carl Froch v George Groves does seem farfetched, I admit that, but hypothetically if Groves had not pulled out of the Stieglitz fight and in fact come away from Germany with the WBO title around his waist…Logically, a unification bout between the two Brits could in fact make a lot of financial sense.

But Groves does not possess the WBO strap and does not possess a world renowned name, just yet. In that sense, Groves does not bring a lot to the table. Maybe when his stock rises and/if gets a world title then the playing field becomes more even.

The other world champions are all in action later this year with Robert Stieglitz defending his WBO title against Arthur Abraham, a former ‘victim’ of the Cobra. In addition, the second man to defeat Froch, Andre Ward is set to defend his WBA and WBC titles against Light-heavyweight champion Chad Dawson.

Froch could make a defence of his title late in the summer and could possibly have a return unification fight and attempt to avenge his defeat against Andre Ward, assuming he comes through the tough test of Chad Dawson.

Froch v Kessler II for the IBF Super-Middleweight championship of the world, possible venue the City Ground, would be a huge night for British boxing.

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