Froch vs Kessler rematch not dead, Stevenson a backup option

Scott Heavey

Carl Froch is still hoping to face Mikkel Kessler instead of Adonis Stevenson, even if he has to do it without the IBF title.

Carl Froch is still hoping to make a fight with Mikkel Kessler, a rematch of their 2010 battle, with Adonis Stevenson currently negotiating as more of a backup option to face Froch for the IBF title if the fight between the two stars cannot be made.

Froch, 35, and Kessler, 33, have negotiated for a rematch for weeks now, with the fight once reported to be nearly finalized, with each man to make about $2 million. The fight would take place in the United Kingdom, but Kessler's team doesn't want to fight in Nottingham, preferring London or Manchester for easier travel access for Kessler's Danish fans.

The IBF says that Froch would be able to keep their title if he fights Kessler in a unification bout -- Kessler holds the WBA "regular" title -- with Stevenson, 35, taking a backseat despite his status as mandatory challenger:

"Because [Froch-Kessler] is a unification bout, it takes precedence over a mandatory, so it would be allowed," said IBF public relations Public Relations Director Jeanette Salazar.

"Information concerning the site and the actual date were still needed. Once all of the information is put forward, certain conditions would be set regarding the mandatory, but it would be allowed because it is a unification."

Froch, for his part, says he prefers to face Kessler with or without the IBF belt he won in 2012 from Lucian Bute:

"If it means that I have to give up my IBF belt, I'll do it. I fought hard to win the IBF belt, when I defeated Lucian Bute, and I am proud to be a world champion. But sometimes a match between two named fighters is larger than the title. A fight between Kessler and me is as big as it can get, whether there are two belts at stake or not."

Stevenson (19-1, 16 KO) and Froch (30-2, 22 KO) are scheduled to have their fight go to a purse bid on January 15, but Kessler (46-2, 35 KO) is definitely still in the running for now. I don't think many would rather see Froch-Stevenson than Froch-Kessler II; the latter is simply a better fight, the best and biggest that can be made in the division right now, with Andre Ward on the shelf due to a shoulder injury.

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