Mikkel Kessler lost a rollercoaster battle in London tonight to Carl Froch on points after 12 brutal rounds in front of 18,000 ferocious fans at the O2 arena.
The Viking Warrior battled hard but endured the third loss of his career, a 118-110, 116-112 and 115-113 point defeat at the hands of the British hard-hitter. The loss could spell the end of Kessler's boxing career.
This, the second edition of Kessler-Froch, lived up to the hype generated from their first bout in Herning, which was won by Kessler in a gruelling contest.
Froch started tonight's fight more aggressively than Kessler, and controlled the initial rounds with his uncompromising jab, supported by a ravenous English home crowd.
Kessler tried hard to match Froch with body shots but it wasn't until the third and fourth rounds that he found his rhythm, slowing the tempo out of the fight.
Round seven saw Froch struggling to stay on his feet, but the roles were reversed the following round, while Kessler appeared to wane in the eighth.
Kessler continuously favoured his potent left punch, which had floored Allan Green recently, and he stunned Froch with a barrage of punches in an eleventh round that looked to be the Englishman’s last.
But the tide turned once more in the twelfth, with Froch somehow finding the energy and sheer determination to go for the KO, backed by the rabid London audience.
But Kessler, who has still never been knocked out, remained on his feet until the final bell.
Froch claimed the spoils – the IBF and WBA belts and a possible bout with Andre Ward, arguably the top super-middleweight boxer in the world – but his win raises more questions than a mere defence of belts. Fans of both boxers are already looking forward to the prospect of a third and deciding match between the two.
That could be wishful thinking however. Kessler, who has been plagued by a series of injuries over the past few years, had hinted that he would retire if he lost Saturday's fight.