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Sweet revenge as Froch defeats Kessler

The 35-year-old added the World Boxing Association belt to his International Boxing Federation title last night.

Carl Froch (right) in action with Mikkel Kessler during their IBF Middleweight Championship fight at the O2 Arena.
Carl Froch (right) in action with Mikkel Kessler during their IBF Middleweight Championship fight at the O2 Arena.

CARL FROCH ENJOYED sweet revenge by unanimously out-pointing Mikkel Kessler in an epic world super-middleweight title unification fight on Saturday.

The English boxer avenged a 2010 points defeat to the Dane after a disciplined display behind his jab earned scores of 118-110, 116-112 and 115-113 in front of 18,000 fans at the O2 Arena in London.

But Froch, who maintained his piston-like jab through out, lived dangerously in the 11th when he was caught by a series of big hooks before both fighters abandoned defence to land bone crushing punches in an enthralling last round.

Froch, 35, added Kessler’s World Boxing Association (WBA) belt to his International Boxing Federation (IBF) title to improve his career record to 31 wins and two defeats.

The other blemish on Froch’s record was a points loss to Andre Ward in December 2011 and a rematch with the American is now one possibility for the Briton’s next fight.

For Kessler, a third career defeat in 48 fights may tempt him to retire after making his professional debut 15 years ago.

There have been many thrilling moments in Froch’s recent career, with his last ten fights all being for world titles.

But none – including the defeat to Kessler in Denmark three years ago – was as big as this.

And the occasion seemed to be getting to Froch earlier this week, with Kessler accusing him of cracking up when the Briton claimed he was ready to “kill” his rival in the ring.

Froch apologised for the tasteless comment but it was pretty clear he still had murderous intent from the first bell.

Kessler, 34, has a profile as big as David Beckham in Denmark, but had few friends down by the Thames in south east London.

Kessler, who weighed in two pounds below the 12 stones limit on Friday, had boxed just 13 rounds since beating Froch due to an eye injury that kept him out for a year.

But Kessler looked fresh and sharp throughout as he avoided Froch’s big blows early on.

In a cagey opening round, three-time world champion Froch landed more single jabs than Kessler, who was open to left and right hooks towards the end of the first.

Froch landed two right hooks at the start of the second, but Kessler mostly slipped the Briton’s big swings in the early rounds.

Kessler, who was out-pointed by Welshman Joe Calzaghe in 2007, could not get past Froch’s ramrod jab and the Briton was well ahead on points after four rounds.

But Kessler won the fifth round when he landed his best shot, a sweeping left hook to the ear, as he Froch’s jab faltered.

Froch was caught unaware in the sixth when after Kessler was warned for a low blow, the Briton was caught by a big right when action resumed.

But Froch broke Kessler’s momentum in the seventh with the first toe-to-toe exchange, which the Nottingham boxer edged.

In a brutally brilliant eighth, Froch had Kessler in trouble with a series of big blows, most notably a right that stiffened the Dane’s legs.

But Kessler came back firing after each Froch attack and landed a decent left hook in the tenth.

Kessler went for the finish in the 11th but was then on shaky legs at the end as Froch finished stronger as both abandoned defence and went for the knock-out. For Froch, it was not necessary, but one judge only had two rounds in it.

© AFP, 2013

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