'King' Arthur Abraham Wins Ugly, Stieglitz Retains TitleWritten by Stuart Law
Robert Stieglitz retained his WBO Super Middleweight title at the Baden Arena, Offenburg, Germany last night as he laboured to a unanimous decision win over the unbeaten 23 year old German Henry Weber.
However, most of the sell-out crowd had come to see the return of 'King' Arthur Abraham following his UD loss to Andre Ward last May. The opponent this time out was Argentinian Pablo Oscar Natalio Farias, who was kept waiting in the ring as Abraham was serenaded by a curious sounding German country music/funk band in cowboy hats who surely have a limited career ahead of them.
The fight was for the vacant WBO European Super-Middleweight title, but the strap meant little, this was the start of the comeback trail for one of the most crowd-pleasing fighters in Germany.
Arthur Abraham 33-3 (27) started slowly, flicking out an occasional jab from his peek-a-boo guard and taking a good look at Farias 19-1 (11) who was certainly the more animated of the two in an uneventful first round.
The second round saw Arthur Abraham launch a brief flurry of wild, inaccurate punches which spurred the crowd into life, but it was Farias who landed the scoring shots to probably take the round.
Abraham struggled to land in the third, being forced to box at range, but did apply pressure towards the end of the round that saw Farias bundled to the canvas, but no knockdown.
The fourth was more competitive but largely uneventful, the highlight for Abraham, his landing a combination of five swinging punches that Farias took and answered.
'King' Arthur found his range in the fifth, pushing Farias back to the ropes and landed a combination of hooks to the body that saw the Argentinian crumble to the canvas. Farias was up at five, but down again within ten seconds as Abraham landed another body shot and a hook to the head. Farias rose for one final time and after an exchange voluntarily sunk back to the canvas, the referee waving it off.
Arthur Abraham displayed reluctance to come forward aggressively during the fight, he appeared tentative and the air of invincibility he carried at Middleweight has now deserted him.
So ultimately a successful but unimpressive looking return to the ring for 'King' Arthur. On this display, the elite Super-Middleweights are unlikely to be troubled by the former Middleweight boss and indeed it is difficult to see him getting another shot at that level. But Arthur Abraham's huge popularity in Germany, and therefore value to Sauerland remains in-tact, for now.
Robert Stielglitz 41-2 (23) started brightly, crashing jabs and right hands into the face of Weber 15-1 (3) whose pale skin started to redden as early as the first round. The champion was warned for use of the shoulder, as he tried to position Weber for big head shots, looking to put him away early, stiffening Weber's legs in the second round with a spiteful, lightening quick, right-left-right combination. Stielglitz then sent the young German's mouthguard rocketing skywards with a big uppercut as Weber proved far too easy to hit, the Champion taking the opening two rounds comfortably.
Weber had some success in the third but Stielglitz again won the round on workrate and accuracy. Rounds four through eight followed a similar pattern, Weber claiming centre-ring, Stielglitz content to box from the outside landing a high volume of good, accurate combinations, the challenger showing resilience in the face of pressure.
By the ninth Weber was showing signs of tiredness and the lack of movement increased the volume of head shots taken, the referee taking a close look at the young German.
Stielglitz launched sustained attacks at the start of both the tenth and eleventh rounds, Weber absorbing more punishment but showing huge heart and courage to fight back and claim centre-ring again in both rounds.
Weber bravely saw out the final round to take the fight to the scorecards, but it was difficult to argue he won a single round. Two of the judges saw it somewhat differently, scoring the fight 118-110 and, inexplicably, 116-112. The third and more representative card gave it 119-109 to the champion. Stieglitz will have tougher fights, but this was undoubtedly a good workout.
A concerned Kalle Sauerland enquired about the health of Stielglitz's hands after the fight, the champion indicating back to him all was fine. Kalle walked away smiling, no doubt his thoughts already turning to springtime in Copenhagen when he will pit Stielglitz against Mikkel Kessler (44-2-2, 32 KO) at the Parken Stadium in front of a large, enthusiastic crowd.
Stuart Law, pictured above with Vitali Klitschko, is a boxing fan and travel enthusiast from Essex, England, who combines the two as often as he can, travelling in recent years to Calzaghe-Jones in New York, Pacquiao-Hatton and Mayweather-Mosley in Las Vegas, Burns-Martinez in Glasgow and Froch-Dirrell in Nottingham.
Stuart is a member of the European Press Federation (EPF), an international career organisation that represents the interests of part-time representatives of the media.
Contact Stuart at firstname.lastname@example.org