Boxing: Fabulous Carl Froch keen for shot at Ward after Kessler classic

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

'I want him here. He needs to leave his safety zone,' says Briton following his gruelling victory over Dane

It was after midnight on Saturday when Carl Froch finally had his revenge over Mikkel Kessler, the crowd of 18,000 at the O2 had their bruised hero and British boxing had a classic fight to rank with the very best.

Froch retained his IBF super-middleweight title, added Kessler's WBA version to his trophy cabinet and is now the attraction, even if American Andre Ward, a grudgingly respectful ringside guest, is considered the best at the weight, and arguably the world's best boxer. Ward recently sent his WBC belt back to the Mexicans who run the sanctioning body like a private club and advised them to store it where the sun does not shine.

In the glow of the fight's many excesses the men from HBO, the American broadcaster and boxing's main benefactor, talked in private with Eddie Hearn, Froch's promoter, about getting the man from Nottingham back in the ring with Ward; the pair met in an oddly low-key fight in 2011 and Ward was a comfortable winner. Saturday's fight was shown live on HBO in America, which is why it started and ended so late, and Ward had been flown in to sit in judgement on his nearest rival.

"I want Ward over here next time," said Froch. "He can't draw a crowd like me, he is not exciting and he needs to fight here; he needs to leave his safety zone to be considered a true champion."

Ward insisted that nobody had ever asked him to fight in Britain and refused to rule out a fight with Froch at a stadium, possibly the Millennium with the roof closed. Outdoors for real next May seems to make more sense, but before that Froch deserves an easy night in his hometown later this year.

"Everybody seems to be talking about me; discussing what I will and will not do – hey, nobody has called me or asked. Let's see what happens, let's see if Eddie calls me. I will beat Carl easier the next time, and the first fight was not close," insisted Ward. "Carl wants a rematch now, but let's see if he feels the same on Monday morning." Froch promised that he would and I believe him.

There is a chance that as the swellings start to subside this morning a clearer picture of Froch's immediate future will be available. A third fight with Kessler is a possibility, the Ward rematch is very real and some type of catchweight clash with Bernard Hopkins, the light-heavyweight world champion, is also in the mix. There is no need to rush at dates or names because nothing will happen until November and even then the elite names are likely to be relegated to dates in 2014. "Right now, I need a rest," Froch said.

On Saturday night, in the debris of a ring illuminated by fireworks and screaming cornermen, there was a moment of reflection when Froch, his face swollen from 12 rounds of combat, moved on unsteady legs to each side and bowed in respect to the fans who had played a crucial role in his victory.

In 2010 the pair hit each other to a standstill in Denmark and Kessler took a tight decision, but on Saturday their devotion to their sport surpassed any previous limits and rounds eight and 11 belong in a very special book. As the final bell sounded the pair turned the last punches of their brutal fight into wide hugs and collapsed into a deep embrace of exhaustion and respect.

A few minutes later Froch, marginally older at 35, had his hands raised with all three scores from the judges, which was the right decision, but there were dozens of moments on Saturday when it appeared likely that Kessler would triumph again. The dreadful second in round 11 when Froch's knees finally buckled after a life of glorious resistance was so disturbing that it looked like his night was over; savage fights and careers can end with single punches like the one that dipped Froch's knees, especially at that late and draining stage in a championship fight.

Kessler knew at that stage that he needed a stoppage but Froch circled, held, ducked and dived and survived until the bell. It was the moment when Froch became a great fighter and a man who will now be fully and belatedly embraced by more than just boxing's fanatical and bamboozled flock. It was Froch's 10th consecutive world title fight since 2008 – most have been gruelling slugfests – but bizarrely it has taken a long time for him to become a star.

Froch took an early lead in a furious opening few rounds and then by the end of round six Kessler, having adjusted his feet to make Froch miss, had evened the score; it was 3-3 and the level of expectation was fused with dread and anticipation as the pair bounced out for round seven. Froch took the seventh and in the eighth he simply refused to be hurt, refused to wilt and take a backward step. Kessler repeatedly connected with rights over Froch's low guard and then a short, sickening left hook that sent Froch's head back, but he simply could not hold him off. It was a shattering round to watch from six feet away at ringside and Ricky Hatton, working with me on Five Live, simply shook his head at the bell. "Froch's unbeatable tonight, unbeatable," Hatton said.

The stunning 11th round was followed by a relentless final 180 seconds, with each taking turns at throwing and missing with Rocky-style punches in an endgame that seemed to play out in slow motion. Their last embrace was separated by their cornermen and they were each patched up before Michael Buffer took the microphone to delight the late-night faithful with the verdict.

The repairs were easy, cosmetic dabs with towels at cuts and blood, but fights like Saturday leave a deep wound inside even the bravest warriors. They will both be back but it needs to be acknowledged they each left something in the ring on Saturday night that they will never get back; in its place they get respect, which is boxing's real title.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer - Midweight / Senior

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin