Froch v Kessler II: The Panel on the trainers

Last Updated: 19/05/13 11:12am

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Rob McCracken: has been with Froch from the very start

Rob McCracken: has been with Froch from the very start

Ahead of Froch-Kessler II on May 25, Johnny Nelson, Jim Watt, Glenn McCrory and Richie Woodhall have had their say on the big fight. Here they analyse the fighters' strengths and weaknesses and give us an insight on the two trainers putting the pair through their paces...

Rob McCracken is Froch's trainer and Jimmy Montoya Kessler's, so what do they bring to the table?

Richie Woodhall: I don't know too much about Kessler's trainer but I would say, looking from the outside, that he has done a very, very good job. I've watched a lot of Kessler's fights and he and his trainer have a great working relationship and they understand each other. If you watch how he boxes, Kessler boxes to his strengths and all of his wins come the way he wants them to. You could argue that Kessler loves a toe-to-toe but if he does then, believe me, it is on his own terms.

As a former boxer myself, when you see Rob McCracken training Froch, and you know he has walked the walk and talked the talk as a number one contender for the world title and a Commonwealth champion, you know he's been through everything and everything he is telling you - even when it gets harder and harder - you know he has done it himself.

He brings that to the table and he and Carl have something very special. McCracken knows Froch inside out and I see that on a daily basis when I am up in Sheffield working with the GB squad. You don't hear a single word of backchat from Carl. He trusts McCracken implicitly.

That relationship carries a lot but McCracken is also very tactically astute. He knows the opponents inside out and he is constantly talking to Froch. That is something I have noticed: Rob tells Froch what he has done right, what he's doing wrong and what he has to do to make it right. Throughout a session McCracken is constantly on Froch - even when he is skipping, or on the bag, or even when he's shadow boxing. And importantly, you can see that Froch takes it all on board.

Glenn McCrory: I don't know too much about Kessler's trainer and if Johnny Nelson's been in a ring with him, he can't be all that! But the one thing I do know is that both of these two boys, Kessler and Froch, have done too much in their careers to need a trainer telling them this and that. They are too experienced to change and I think both trainers know that their main concern is to prepare them properly, make sure they are fit and they do not leave a stone unturned when it comes to getting them in the best shape ever.

Rob McCracken is brilliant. He's a nice guy and he is just a straight talker and that's what Froch needs and I am sure that is how Kessler sees Jimmy Montoya. They don't even need any geeing up these two guys, they just need the truth.

Johnny Nelson: These are mature fighters. There are certain fighters at his stage of their career who need a trainer for guidance, tactics and many other things. But these two guys just need cheerleaders and motivators to fuel the fire in their belly.

No disrespect to Kessler's trainer - he's a nice, nice guy - but I think anybody who goes in Kessler's corner at this time will get the same result. Kessler knows exactly what he's got to do and for Carl, well he's been with Rob from day dot. And it's worked perfectly for him.

But Carl works a hell of a lot outside the gym, too. He doesn't just go to the gym and work with Rob, he works on fitness, diet, condition... Most fighters need to be spoon-fed by their trainers - not these two.

Jim Watt: What I like about Carl is he's an athlete 52 weeks of the year. You can see him in between fights and he looks the same. Ok, he puts on a little weight, but he's never out of shape. Stamina is what you build, not over 10 weeks in a gym, but over years with one fight after another, keeping the body in shape between fights. Carl has always done that and that's the reason why at the age he is now he's boxing better than ever. You get out of the body what you put in and he's an athlete 100 per cent.

Similarities: but the Panel say there are slight differences between the two

There's not much to choose between them, so what are the strengths and weaknesses that might prove the difference?

Glenn McCrory: Mikkel Kessler is the Danish Carl Froch and vice versa! If I am describing Kessler here in the UK I would say exactly the same things I would if I were describing Froch to the Danes. Kessler is a very, very good boxer, a very good puncher and he's tough - but he is starting to cut. He's had eye damage and that is a big concern, especially when he's going in with someone as tough as Carl Froch. Kessler is showing the battles of war more and more.

However, the only weakness that separated them last time was Carl's preparation because the ash cloud made getting to Denmark a nightmare. It is those small things that are just thrown into the mix that are likely to be the difference; something like the smallest of injuries, a hand problem, anything that you cannot plan for.

Richie Woodhall: Kessler has a great jab and when you have a jab like his you're in with a chance against any fighter in the world. He's also got a great straight right as well. His straight punches are his biggest threats. He is very good boxing on the front foot, dishing it out - but I am not sure he is too good on the back foot, or going backwards, so Froch will no doubt try and exploit that. The reason why this is such an exciting fight, though, is the fact Kessler won't run; he'll come and take Froch on and try and push the Nottingham man back.

Kessler doesn't really like boxing close up on the inside, either. He's not great in that range and he doesn't like mixing it up. He can box on the inside, but he's not that good at it.

Carl, meanwhile, is a tough man who isn't scared of being hit to land a punch himself. Occasionally he carries his guard far too low and that is a dangerous position to be in. It's OK having your hands down if you're out of range but Carl will drop his left hand when he is in close and in range of being hit - and that invites the right hand. In the last fight with Kessler he got caught time and time again by the right, a single shot, because his left hand was low. I want to see his guard a little bit tighter close in.

Froch is a better all-round fighter, though. He can box at long range, he can stand toe-to-toe throwing mid-range shots like hooks but is also happy to go inside. He is actually quite good in there too. His head movement is good, he's good the way he switches and goes downstairs to hit hard and then he'll switch to the head.

Jim Watt: Both fighters are warriors. Kessler tries to use more skill than brawn, though. He knows already how strong and tough Froch is so he won't be dreaming of a stoppage victory. He'll be expecting the full 12 rounds and I think he'll try to nick as many rounds using his skills as he can. He's maybe a bit more polished than Carl in that respect. He moves around, has better balance and puts punches together better.

But Carl compensates that with the way he fights. He has a lot of technique himself but his footwork isn't always the smoothest. We saw against Bute how well he fought in bursts, rather than throwing single punches, so we can expect him to employ that tactic again.

Johnny Nelson: Both fighters are better now than when they first met. Just look at the opponents they've faced... Froch has changed pace, he starts figts more aggressively. So he doesn't just throw single combinations any more, like he did in the first fight. Kessler was a bit of a war-monger and wanted a toe-to-toe tear up. This time he'll have to hunt him down to try and get it - and he probably will!

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