Former cruiserweight world champion Johnny Nelson believes Mikkel Kessler deserves to be favourite to beat Carl Froch in their highly-anticipated rematch on May 25...
A few weeks ago I thought it was a little harsh making Mikkel Kessler the underdog. I am not so sure now - and that is nothing to do with the Dane.
Kessler is a hell of a fighter. He has been there, seen it, done it and above all he is hard. And he can punch.
We've got to remember that Kessler won the first fight too so he is coming into this one with the winning mentality, while Carl Froch has everything to prove.
Kessler will think 'all I have to do is do what I did last time' and 'I know how to beat this guy' but it might means he needs to do less work, or changing what he does in his preparation. But he is away from home and agains a guy who wants that score levelled, so he has to put a bit more emphasise into what he does.
Kessler has achieved so much. If you look at the guys he's beaten, there are so many top 10 fighters on his record - but he's not craved attention.
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He may need to finish off when he slips out of a shots this time. He may to come back with a left hook or an uppercut, or a right over the top - and when I saw him training out in Denmark there was one shot he kept using. I remember thinking he didn't throw that last time.
The bottom line is, do not expect Kessler to do the same as the first time round.
That though is Froch's approach. And them some. He admits that he made some mistakes in the first one and if I thought Kessler was a tough man, I could barely believe what I saw up in Sheffield.
But then I saw Carl training, I was amazed genetically gifted. This guy is so hard, so, so, so fit that he probably can take that shot, no problem at all! I have never seen anyone train like Carl Froch. I was a hard trainer and I have been with a lot of fighters training, but boy is something different: 15 rounds for three different sparring partners and every round, he beat them up - and none of them were mugs.
Then when he'd finished that, he'd train for an hour, skipping, floor work, pad work and this was only two weeks ago. He was on his toes, buzzing around and then, well to keep it polite, I changed my expectations. I still think Kessler should not be the underdog, but I would back Froch all the way now.
Carl knows he has to do a lot more training - and I know he has done. He has to throw more punches, he can't just throw the single punches, he needs to throw combinations and catch Kessler when he thinks he's out of range. He need to really step it up, especially in that last quarter of the fight.
We've seen Kessler in the flesh and his face was clean, and clear. Not a mark on him. That means he has controlled his sparring partners. He's had Nathan Cleverly, Geore Groves and others and there is not a mark on his face and remember they want to spar with him so there should be the odd mark there! Kessler though, assured me, that sparring went to plan.
I did think Kessler would stop Carl, because Carl's last few performances were a bit more gung-ho, more reckless and he was too easy to hit. I thouht 'if he goes in against Kessler like that, he'll be beaten again'. And I saw Kessler working on a particular shot in training and Carl was open to it and that all fitted in with my thoughts.
But now I am sure of one thing; that Froch is going to level the score. I don't think their will be a third but this will be enough for us, I am sure. Kessler should be expecting a better, improved Froch and a fit guy trying to take him out. I am not sure either is going to go mad early on but sooner or later they will end up in another brawl.
That suits him down the ground but this time I think the ground is where he is going. I could see Kessler winning this with a knockout but now, the tables have turned. Sorry Mikkel, but it's Carl all the way, probably getting the stoppage in the last quarter of the fight.