Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler didn't disappoint spectators at the O2 Arena or TV viewers worldwide tonight, engaging in another fantastic, 12-round battle that may have eclipsed their 2010 bout, and was at worst right on that same level.
In the end, it was Froch getting a measure of revenge, winning the fight by unanimous decision on scores of 115-113, 116-112, and 118-110. BLH had it 115-113 for Froch.
The fight went back-and-forth a good bit, with it seeming like every time Froch (31-2, 22 KO) began to pull away, Kessler (46-3, 35 KO) would muscle his way back into the fight, keeping it close enough that it never seemed like a one-way street.
But Froch was definitely the better man tonight.
"I'd happily do it again and make it 2-1," Froch said to HBO's Max Kellerman, who then asked about a potential rematch with Andre Ward. Ward currently holds the WBA super super middleweight title (yes), while Froch added the WBA regular super middleweight title (I know, right?) to his IBF belt with tonight's win.
"(Ward's) the other target. I've had a 33-fight career, only lost twice," Froch said. "I've set the record (with Kessler) straight tonight, well and truly. I think -- I don't know. I've always said I wouldn't like to fight Andre Ward again. He's a boxing purist, he's very good at what he does, but he's not an entertaining fighter. He's out to win. It's not a fighter's fight. He doesn't seem to get the television companies excited. I could beat Ward, if I get it right. Let's get him over to the United Kingdom and get the fight on next, if he wants it."
Prior to that, Ward, who was ringside commentating for HBO (and taking thinly-veiled shots at Froch all night long, while seemingly rooting hard for Kessler to win), basically said, if not in so many words, that he'll go to the UK if Matchroom Boxing will pay him enough money. "They have to prove how bad they want it," he said. And that, I would say, is fair enough.
34-year-old Kessler took a tough loss here, but there was no evidence that he's washed-up or shot, I don't think. Sure, he wasn't quite as good as he used to be, but he stood in there with a top fighter and gave a hell of an effort. He's still at worst the third-best super middleweight in the world as far as I can see.
As for Froch, he has big fights waiting. Ward could happen, or there could be a third bout with Kessler, if Kessler would want to do a rubber match. Or he could take a stay-busy sort of title defense in the meantime, and see what shakes out after that. It is now established, clearly, that Froch is the second-best super middleweight in the sport today. He could also move up to 175 and face Bernard Hopkins, though promoter Eddie Hearn has not seemed keen on that idea, so that's probably a distant third.
Can Froch beat Ward if he gets another crack at it? Remember there were no volcanoes distracting him like there were against Kessler. He just plain lost to Ward.