by Cliff Rold
Arthur Abraham might have missed his window. There was a time, specifically when Jermain Taylor reigned as the lineal king of the Middleweight division, when Abraham may have been the very best Middleweight in the world. There were a lot of people who wondered.
There weren’t enough, on two sides of the Atlantic, to make it happen for him at 160 lbs. The window closed and he attempted to open another at 168. Ironically, it was a win over Taylor in that class in the opening round of the Super Six tournament where the window slammed down.
He’s never been the very best Super Middleweight in the world. Losses in three straight Super Six contests proved it. That doesn’t mean he still isn’t a handful for fighters below the elite levels that men like Carl Froch and Andre Ward occupy.
Arthur Abraham has had to settle for just being good, and that’s good enough. Two fights ago, he was good enough to finally win a belt at Super Middleweight against Robert Stieglitz. Will he be good enough to keep it in the rematch?
Let’s go to the report card.
Title: WBO Super Middleweight (2012-Present, 1 Defense)
Previous Titles: IBF Middleweight (2005-09, 10 Defenses)
Weight: 168 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 167.75 lbs.
Hails from: Berlin, Germany
Record: 36-3, 28 KO
Rankings: #4 (Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, BoxingScene, SecondsOut, BoxRec), #5 (Ring, ESPN)
Record in Major Title Fights: 13-2, 7 KO
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 5 (Raul Marquez RTD6; Jermain Taylor KO12; Carl Froch L12; Andre Ward L12; Robert Stieglitz UD12)
Previous Title: WBO Super Middleweight (2009-12, 6 Defenses)
Weight: 167.5 lbs.
Average Weight - Five Most Recent Fights: 167.95 lbs.
Hails from: Magdeburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany
Record: 43-3, 24 KO, 2 KOBY
Rankings: #5 (TBRB, SecondsOut), #6 (BoxingScene, ESPN, Ring), #8 (BoxRec)
Record in Major Title Fights: 7-2, 2 KO, 1 KOBY
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 3 (Alejandro Berrio TKO11, KO by 3; Karoly Balzsay TKO11; Arthur Abraham L12)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Abraham B; Stieglitz B
Pre-Fight: Power – Abraham A; Stielglitz B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Abraham B; Stieglitz B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Abraham B; Stieglitz B+
Stieglitz has improved over the years, sharpening the edges of his game and getting much better at seeing punches coming. He got hit with some monster rights by Abraham the first time around, but he kept himself at the right distance. He could see them coming and brace, never falling victim to the blind knockout blow.
It was his lone loss since 2008 and his first loss over the distance. That there were some who thought Stieglitz did enough to keep his belt speaks highly of the value of learning losses past.
Abraham, as has been the case throughout his career, also showed the ability to take a shot. Stieglitz landed some stiff stuff and Abraham was there firing back. He was more offensive, against a quality foe, than has sometimes been the case in his past. Abraham can sometimes get caught waiting for the perfect shot. Against Stieglitz, he let his hands go more.
By doing so, he also got hit more. Abraham can be hard to find, but when he gets too defensive he kills his own offense. The effort versus Stieglitz the first time was more balanced. How will he approach this one? The last time Abraham had a rematch, versus Edison Miranda, he ended it earlier.
Those are heavy hands to avoid twice. Can Stieglitz do it?
This is an interesting fight for Abraham. If he wins, and Mikkel Kessler defeats Carl Froch in their May rematch, Kessler-Abraham makes a lot of sense. They share a promoter. The match hasn’t been made before. If he loses, a rubber match with Stieglitz probably emerges as the best business for either man. At 33, with a rugged style, Abraham might not have years left.
This is the picture of his twilight.
The thinking here is Abraham ends the night with an eye on Kessler. He was a little too heavy handed the first time and Stieglitz can’t get brave enough to demand the rounds with the sort of volume that can freeze him.
Moreover, it’s unlikely Stieglitz, who remains hittable, stands up to the right hands again for a whole night. Abraham is due for a knockout reminder of why he remains a worthy watch at the top level of the Super Middleweight division. This should be it. The pick is Abraham around the tenth round.
Report Card Picks 2013: 7-5
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]