By Terence Dooley
The WBO have confirmed that they are reviewing Saturday night's fight between WBO Super middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham and challenger Paul Smith before making a decision over a potential rematch. Smith fought a good fight in Kiel, Germany—and what many believed was a close, albeit losing, one—only to lose by scores of 117-110, 119-109 and 117-111 from Waleska Roldan, Fernando Laguna and Zoltan Enyedi respectively.
Some fans had Smith winning, many more had Abraham nicking the decision, but the wide scorecards stole the focus away from the fight itself and placed it firmly on the perceived infirmity of the judging minds, especially the extremely wide scorecard of Laguna.
Eddie Hearn, Smith’s promoter, has vowed to take their case to the WBO in a bid to force mandatory status for Smith and a rematch, which is going to be tough given that he was a voluntary defence and Abraham is eying a fight against the winner of Felix Sturm versus Robert Stieglitz—they meet at catchweigh in Germany on November 8.
The WBO have stated that: ‘[We are] waiting to receive the assigned supervisor's report and replaying the fight before giving an opinion on Abraham-Smith.’
Their World Championship Committee can order an immediate return as WBO Regulation 1 (17) confirms that they have the power to: ‘[R]ecommend to the Executive Committee whether a direct return fight should be authorized;’ although Regulation 18, Return Fights, states that return fights are not allowed, this rule only applies to contests in which a champion is relieved of his title.
Indeed, Regulation 18 may work in Smith’s favour as returns are allowed if: ‘[T]he World Championship Committee determines either that the resolution of a Championship Contest was substantially irregular, or that there was a clear misapplication of the rules of boxing resulting in a manifest unfairness, such that in either case the World Championship Committee determines that the Championship was substantially unresolved, the World Championship Committee may, in its discretion, recommend a direct return fight, which may be authorized only by the majority vote of the Executive Committee.’
It is a ray of hope Smith, who fell to 35-4 (20) after the defeat; Abraham moves to 41-4 (28). The champion verbally promised Smith a return, according to Phil Kirkbride of the Liverpool Echo, but Matthew Macklin was offered a similar promise after losing a close one to Felix Sturm in Germany in 2011 only for Sturm to move forward with a defence against Martin Murray later that year. Abraham is likely to find the lure of the Stieglitz-Sturm money-spinner too hard to resist, leaving Smith, 31, with no choice but to pursue a rematch via the WBO's official channels.
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