Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler labelled themselves as gladiators yesterday as they launched the second of what could be a trilogy of fights.

The super-middleweight duo were at London's O2 Arena to promote the 25 May meeting between them which will serve as a rematch to their bloody tear up in Denmark three years ago.

Froch was beaten on that night, with his nose broken and his unbeaten record whipped away from him in a bout that is still referred to owing to its brutality.

Both men have won and lost world titles since and will put the belts they currently have, the IBF (Froch) and WBA (Kessler) on the line in front of 17,000 fight fans who snapped up every available ticket within two hours of them going on sale yesterday.

Those numbers show just why talk of the bout is on so many people's lips, with Froch's trainer, Rob McCracken, and Kessler's promoters already talking about a third one.

That is something the fighters would appear to be open to, with mutual admiration flowing between the two.

"It's a real pleasure to announce this as it's difficult to explain what it means to me," said Froch, whose other career loss came against Andre Ward, who is one of Kessler's two conquerors.

"When I talk about Mikkel I talk about courage, toughness, pride, desire and strength. I have so much admiration for him. He is a gladiator and so am I."

Kessler, whose only bone of contention with Froch has been the Nottingham man's claim that he was unfortunate to lose on points in Denmark, got his wish for Froch to admit he was beaten by the better man yesterday and said: "Carl is an honourable man.

"I have come here to fight him after promising a rematch. I am desperate to win and know I can. I would have fought him anywhere. He is a real gladiator and I cannot wait."

Froch spoke of being able to visualise his defeat to Kessler when he goes to bed every night and his desire to secure a "legacy".

Normally that is for others to decide but, with a resume that boasts wins over the likes of Lucian Bute, Andre Dirrell, Jean Pascal and Jermaine Taylor, Froch deserves to be placed among the very best of his time.

This will be his first fight in London since he fought Brian Magee - the Irishman who Kessler beat last time out - seven years ago, and such is his desperation to unify the division, promoter Eddie Hearn has chosen a specific night on which to let his man strut his stuff.

The fight will take place in North Greenwich just moments after the Champions League final has finished 17 miles away at Wembley, and Hearn said: "That is very deliberate. This is a proven thing to do.

"I am delighted to give Carl his legacy fight. Not many fighters deserve these kinds of nights, but he's here without any preconceived media hype or showmanship. He's achieved what he has achieved as a real entertainer.

"There will be a huge audience that night with the football and we aim to give them an epic showdown."