Brutal bout: Carl Froch lands a punch on Mikkel Kessler during their Super Middleweight Unification battle at the O2 Arena getty
Only Kessler and Ward have mastered Froch and on Saturday night the 35-year-old from Nottingham took the first step on his "road to redemption" by retaining his IBF super-middleweight title against the man who dethroned him in 2010.
A savage 12-round collision fought before an electric 19,000 capacity crowd at the 02 Arena saw Froch secure a 118-110, 116-112, 115-113 decision, although the first scorecard was flattering.
With Kessler accounted for, Froch has turned his attention to unbeaten WBA 'super' champion Ward, the man who outclassed him in Atlantic City in December 2011.
"If I could avenge the Andre Ward loss...could you imagine that?" said Froch, who banked his 31st win.
"The only two people to have beaten me are Kessler and Ward, so to beat them is the stuff dreams are made of. Beating Kessler is the first step on the road to redemption. I have two belts (IBF and the lesser WBA belt that Kessler held), so what choice does he have but to come to the UK? Why would I go to America to fight someone like him? No one wants to face him, so he must come over here. I boxed him in the US, so the next one has to be in the UK. Let's get him out of America."
"Andre has absolutely no options. Tell me another fight out there for him at super-middleweight," promoter Eddie Hearn said. "That's why he was at the 02 – he wants the fight with Froch."
Froch and Ward spoke briefly after Saturday night's thunderous showdown with the American bristling at criticism of his style.
"In terms of style he's a nightmare. I had a little chat with him after and I think I upset him because I said that in terms of style he's not the most exciting fighter," Froch said.
Only Floyd Mayweather sits above Ward in the pound-for-pound list, but his career has always lacked the type of heart-stopping action witnessed at the 02 Arena.
Both men emptied the tanks, delivering and taking blows throughout, but Froch was the dominant force and he was close to stopping the teak-tough 34-year-old Dane in the final round.
Kessler had enjoyed his best round in the 11th and a standing ovation greeted the rivals as they rose for the 12th, the crowd acknowledging that the evening had matched all expectations.