by Cliff Rold
There ain’t gonna’ be (another) rematch.
With a blistering right hand in round six, Arthur Abraham retained his WBO Super Middleweight belt on Saturday and ended his personal war with Robert Stieglitz in their fourth and presumably final fight. It was a roller coaster for both men with Abraham winning a pair of decisions that could have went either way and Stieglitz scoring a stoppage in their second outing.
It was another physical outing. For fans that have followed the series, it was a fitting, entertaining end. Both men showed a little of their age, moving just a hair slower than when it all started in 2012. Abraham moves on. Whether Stieglitz continues his career or not remains to be seen. In a year that has already seen the retirements of Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler, there is a real feeling of the guard changing at 168 lbs.
How does Abraham factor into that going forward?
Let’s go the report card.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Abraham B; Stieglitz B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Abraham A; Stielglitz B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Defense – Abraham B; Stieglitz B/Post: B+; B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Abraham B; Stieglitz B+/Post: B+; B
Of all their four fights, this would end up being the best night for Abraham and not just because of the finish. Abraham, fighting relaxed and opening up earlier and more often, seized control from the outset and never let Stieglitz establish offensive momentum for long. Abraham hurt him in the second, scored a flash knockdown in the fourth, and handled a quality rally from Stieglitz in the fifth.
Stieglitz bloodied Abraham’s nose in that frame and the challenger seemed to have found something. As the sixth unspooled, Abraham was holding, his mouth was open, and it looked like he might be gassing.
Then, it was over.
Abraham landed big, Stieglitz seemed to wilt, and the still dangerous Armenian found his closing gear. Abraham may not have scored a stoppage since 2012, but as long as he has gloves on he will remain a punching threat. The closing shot, a right hand to the top of the head when Stieglitz was hunched in defense, was the sort of never-saw-it-coming bomb that has made Abraham worth watching even on nights where he seems unwilling to move his hands.
Stieglitz collapsed in pieces to the floor and, while he made it up by nine, his corner rightfully saw their man has done. Stieglitz protested briefly but his shaky steps to the corner said the correct call was made.
Abraham, at 35, isn’t going to get his prime back and several miles have been added to the odometer in the Stieglitz fights. He’s not going to fight recognized divisional champion Andre Ward again (if Ward really does ever return to Super Middleweight to defend the title). He’s unlikely to face the UK’s James DeGale. Abraham’s future is hard to predict but we know this much. In completing this quadrology, his WBO mandatory is out of the way. His promoter, Germany’s Sauerland, has another Super Middleweight titlist potentially in the wings.
On August 22, former title challenger George Groves will continue his rebound from a pair of losses to Carl Froch in a challenge of newly minted WBC titleholder Badou Jack. If Groves wins, is there a bigger in-house fight at Sauerland than Abraham-Groves?
It makes so much sense it probably won’t happen.
Report Card and Staff Picks 2015: 60-15
The best fight of the weekend on paper was an absolute dud in the ring. McJoe Arroyo and Arthur Villanueva mixed like sandpaper and sunburns. Arroyo left with the vacant IBF 115 lb. belt and there was a reasonable argument for either man to be marginally ahead after ten cut-shortened rounds. The scores favoring Arroyo were abominable and said nothing about what happened in the ring. Whenever an American bitches about overseas scoring and officiating, they should take a deep breath and hang their head in shame. Americans have too many shenanigan s in Texas to throw stones anywhere…Speaking of shenanigans, see Julio Cesar Chavez officiating his own fights (again) and getting absurd scores (again). Perhaps the best moment of the fight was when he stomped his foot like a child in need of a binky after he landed several belt line shots and ate one in retaliation before demanding and getting a point deduction for an incidental headbutt. Let’s hope Al Haymon puts Chavez in with Adonis Stevenson or Arthur Beterbiev sooner than later and gets this whiny, entitled, unprofessional waste of TV time cashed out. Remember, Chavez-Reyes was a main event on subscription premium cable…Scott Quigg looked great Saturday and Carl Frampton didn’t. Until they fight each other, it’s all just rivalry fodder…Cesar Cuenca might not be able to punch but he sure can box. He would be an interesting foe for Terrence Crawford or countryman Lucas Matthysse as he’s not boring in his approach.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]