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
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee CAD Technician

£12800 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee CAD Technician is req...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000+

£15600 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This renewable energy installat...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Liverpool - up to £28,000

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: This is a large multi-site operation...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss