by Cliff Rold
It was win or go away time and former IBF Middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham found a way to stick around. It wasn’t easy.
In (yet another) solid battle among top ten Super Middleweights, Abraham unloaded some heavy stuff and found a titlist who wanted to keep his belt. That Stieglitz could not took nothing from his effort and kept him viable for future opportunities.
And Abraham looks now for more opponents who can keep him both relevant and in the winner’s circle.
Let’s go to the report card.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Stieglitz B; Abraham B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Stieglitz B; Abraham A+/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Defense – Stieglitz B-; Abraham B/Post: B; B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Stieglitz B; Abraham B/Post: B+; B+
Through eleven straight wins, seven of them in title fights, Stieglitz looked like a fighter who had grown beyond two stoppage losses to Alejandro Berrio and Librado Andrade. If nothing else, his effort versus Abraham solidified that Stieglitz has grown from his defeats. There were moments in the final minute of multiple rounds where Stieglitz looked ready to go. He refused to succumb.
It was like he had mentally prepared to do anything but be stopped.
He needed that sort of mental moxy. After getting off to a good start, appearing to win the second and third round, Abraham started chipping away. As is his style, Abraham let his opponent do the work early, and then opened up to land most of the most telling blows in too many rounds for Stieglitz to overcome.
The final tally from this corner favored Abraham 7-5, but there were close ones and there was reason to wonder if Abraham should have closed stronger in the twelfth. His gamble, seeming to take the round off, worked out and he earned the win, but it wasn’t enough to erase his Super Six demons.
Abraham’s losses to Andre Dirrell, Carl Froch, and Andre Ward were decisively scored. It’s nice to have a belt at 168 lbs. now (WBO) but what does it mean? It’s promotable but anyone sane can see it for what it is: a paper title. It was seen that way when Stieglitz has it and being on Abraham’s waist in some ways furthers the perception.
That doesn’t mean he can’t make the most of it. Abraham still has some of the best one-shot power in the game and, matched wisely, can make good fights. The dangling of the name Mikkel Kessler might be the most intriguing. Kessler showed some vulnerability in beating Allan Green and is past his peak. Would he have the legs if Abraham caught him? Could Abraham get around Kessler’s still potent jab?
There is also Felix Sturm if Sturm wins his unification bout against Daniel Geale at Middleweight this week. Sturm-Abraham was a fight that should have happened years ago and would still be big business in Germany.
The point is Abraham has options. He wouldn’t have had many without a win on Saturday.
Report Card Picks 2012: 39-13
Super Middleweight: Abraham jumps a couple slots, settling right behind the first man to defeat him in Andre Dirrell. Stieglitz slips only one slot after a game effort.
The full results of note and impact on the ratings are a click away.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]