By Alexey Sukachev & Per Ake Persson
Sport and Congress Center, Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany - And the force was with him but the luck was not. WBO #8 Namibian Willbeforce Shihepo (20-7, 15 KOs) produced one of his finest performances but came just a notch short of defeating ex-WBO super middleweight and ex-IBF middleweight king Arthur Abraham (37-4, 28 KOs) in a bid for a vacant WBO I/C title. The fading German Armenian won a close unanimous decision over twelve and remains a viable challenger for the crown, now owned by his bitter rival Robert Stieglitz. Shihepo, on the other hand, despite a game effort will have to come back to the regional circuit in search for a backdoor at the top.
Abraham was fighting his usual style, covering much of the time behing a solid block and rarely exploding with wild, furious combinations. However, unlike his prime days, when those combos were considerably more numerous and powerful, tonight they were just enough to give him a slight edge in an even fight. Shihepo was never in danger of being floored but he didn't help himself offensively, throwing much but landing little, with Abraham taking much of the damage on his block. Arthur was slightly better in the first five rounds but Shihepo grew bigger as the bout progressed. He picked up hispunches together and had some success in rounds six to eleven. Both contestants ended the fight in exchanges.
At the end, judges saw the bout: 116-113 (Richie Davis), 116-112 (Manuel Javier Palomo) and 117-111 (Mickey Vann) - for Abraham. BoxingScene scored the fight a draw - 114-114. King Arthur Abraham remains relevant at the continental level but surely shows signs of aging.