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Dave Amos 22nd Apr 2010 - 10:44

Kessler fighting for his professional life

In his entire career, Roger Federer has lost 163 tennis matches. Chelsea, one point clear at the top of the Premier League, have already lost six league games this season. Ronnie O'Sullivan has been knocked out of snooker's World Championship more times in the first two rounds than he has won it. And BJ Penn, arguably the greatest lightweight in mixed martial arts, has a professional record of six losses to go alongside his fifteen wins.

Carl Froch vs. Mikkel Kessler. WBC super middleweight title.
Saturday April 24, MCH Messecenter Herning, Herning, Denmark.

In every sport, even at the highest level, losses are commonplace, with one glaring exception.

Boxing stands alone as a sport in which prolonged undefeated records are commonplace.

Most fighters do lose after time, but often, this can take many years.

Lennox Lewis was six years into his professional career before his first defeat, Naseem Hamed nine years, Ricky Hatton a decade. Joe Calzaghe went fifteen years as a professional and never once knew what it was like to leave the ring a beaten man. Between the aforementioned four men, their careers totalled fifty-one years and 174 fights, of which they amassed a collective total of just five defeats.

Therefore, when a fighter does lose, the way they handle defeat can vary wildly, such is the nature of being handed a loss after so many years of winning.

Naseem Hamed was never the same after Marco Antonio Barrera finally proved the Prince wasn't the invincible figure he'd have liked us to believe.

By contrast, Lennox Lewis finished his career as the world's number one heavyweight, having avenged his eventual two defeats and beating every big name he was asked to face.

Having fought and lost, a fighter can often find themselves at a crossroads, with their career hanging on one fight. Such is the case this Saturday with Mikkel Kessler.

Kessler has in fact lost twice, but his performance when losing to Joe Calzaghe wasn't as traumatic as some defeats may be. He didn't fight badly; indeed he started strong and was well in with a chance of winning until the fight's latter stages.

He won his WBA world title back in his next fight and defended it against two overmatched opponents before signing for the Super Six tournament and entering as one of the favourites.

Cue his second defeat, and a performance that some said showed that the once 39-0 'Viking Warrior' was now washed up, weakened, and nearing the end of his career at a fairly youthful 31.

Kessler's loss to the relatively unheralded American Andre Ward was a surprise.

Ward fought brilliantly to give him his dues, but Kessler, badly cut and miles behind on points, had the look of man who had given up long before the fight was called off in the eleventh.

Kessler physically looks like a big puncher, and apart from a decision win against the concrete-jawed Librado Andrade was on a run of stoppage victories going back to 2005, but he never seemed to cause Ward any problems at all.

He was out-jabbed throughout the entire contest and just couldn't find a way to win.

Carl Froch is someone who finds ways to win fights.

A tough, hard-hitting man, his last three fights have seen him in with three very different opponents.

Jean Pascal stood toe to toe with Froch and provided a war that the man from Nottingham won.

Jermain Taylor looked to outbox Froch, and had him down for the first time in his career, but a massive final round saw Taylor dropped and stopped with Froch all set to lose on the cards.

Finally, Andre Dirrell ran from the action, refusing to engage and tried to win on points, but Froch hunted him down and just about landed enough to take a close split decision. If Kessler can be compared to any of these men, it's Pascal, and that has the makings of an absolutely fantastic fight.

In simple terms, Kessler has to win.

The format of this tournament, and the recent win for Andre Dirrell against Arthur Abraham means that back to back losses for the Dane will spell disaster.

Kessler's career will have been turned on it's head in the space of two fights, whilst Froch will be on his way to the semi-finals still in possession of his WBC world title.

With that in mind, Kessler will spend a short amount of time feeling out Froch before he has to assert himself, and this could be his undoing.

If Kessler doesn't fancy going to war having tasted Froch's power then that will play into the hands of the naturally aggressive Englishman.

Contrary to opinion, I think Froch will end up pressing the fight and standing toe to toe with a man who has no option but to fight back.

With that in mind, my advice would be to look at the late rounds for a stoppage win for either man in a fight that's almost too close to call.

I'll lean ever so slightly towards Froch, but whatever the outcome, I think this will be a fantastic advert for the sport.

Suggestions: Kessler by KO, TKO or DQ 12/5 and Carl Froch by KO, TKO or DQ 5/2


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