Froch loses unbeaten record and title to Kessler
Carl Froch lost both his unbeaten record and his WBC super-middleweight title after Mikkel Kessler defeated him via a unanimous points decision. In front of a partisan Danish crowd, home favourite Kessler was awarded the fight 117-111, 115-113 and 116-112.
In the third defence of his title belt as part of the Super Six series - which will determine a unified champion of the division - Froch was unable to get onto the front foot and put his opponent under any sustained pressure.
Instead it was Kessler who seized the initiative in the majority of the rounds, fighting with the determination of a man who knew he would face elimination from the tournament if he succumbed to defeat.
It took a while for Kessler to become the aggressor in the bout, however, as the first three rounds passed by in subdued fashion. Both men threw out a series of range-finding jabs without any real conviction as they implored the other to spark the contest into life.
The fight caught fire in the fourth when Kessler accepted Froch's invitation to attack. Both men scored with ferocious jabs, and it was Froch who seemed most galvanised by landing a weighty blow.
He had Kessler on the floor in the fifth after the Dane lost his footing as he tried to evade a jab, but the referee - correctly - judged it a slip. Soon after he regained a vertical position, Kessler was again left unsteady in his footwork as Froch landed a right hand.
He was unable to carry forward any momentum, however, as Kessler pieced together three impressive rounds as the fight moved past its halfway stage. Froch - as is his style - kept his hands low and looked for a counter-punch, but he was tagged far too often and circumspect when he went on the attack.
Perhaps sensing that the bout was slipping away from him, Froch showed more impetus in rounds nine and ten. A ferocious left caught his opponent just above the left eye in the tenth, cracking the skin and causing Kessler to draw blood.
The sight of crimson briefly threatened to be a turning point - Froch appeared energized as he enacted the gameplan of targeting the eye. For his part, Kessler was trying to protect the wound in the knowledge that the judges were likely to have him in front.
Froch, visibly tiring by this point, was unable to make any impression on that left eye as Kessler's resolute defence held firm. With both fighters gripped by the fear that only a knockout would suffice for victory, the 12th was punctuated by wild swings and raggedy footwork.
Ultimately, Kessler would learn that he had no need to expend such energy in the final round. He sealed the comfortable points victory, while Froch goes on to fight Arthur Abraham in the next round of the Super Six.