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20 JULY 2018

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Zeuge breaks Smith's heart in Germany

By Steve Bateson: Tyron Zeuge successfully defended his WBA Regular Super Middleweight Championship on Saturday night, outpointing England’s Paul Smith over twelve rounds.


It was billed as "last chance saloon" for Smith (who has previous high profile losses to Andre Ward, George Groves, James DeGale & Arthur Abraham x2) but in reality he was never really in the fight and Zeuge cruised to a very comfortable defense, picking up a contentious last round knockdown to rub salt in the wounds of Smith.

The scorecards read: 119-108




Smith had predicted a knockout victory, assuming his younger foe would get overeager and walk onto something, but apart from a brief flash in the third round he was kept completely at bay, especially by Zeuge’s tremendous double jab work.


To be honest it was disappointing from a fighter like Smith because bar a very late surge he barely even forced the defending champion to get out of first gear. Perhaps he struggled with the weight or perhaps at 34 he just does not have what it takes to compete at this kind of level; if we are brutally honest it is more the latter than the former.


Zeuge was viewed as weak champion coming in (a dodgy draw decision in his favour against Giovanni De Carolis in 2016 the reason for that) but he looked a completely different fighter to the one we had seen previously. He chose to box at range for the main, controlling the pace with his jab, but occasionally he would move inside to allow his combinations off.


In round three there was an overhand right from Smith that landed on the top of Zeuge’s head and momentarily seemed to stun the champ but the moment was gone before it had even began, I don’t know if Smith knew he had hurt his foe or whether he was capable of capitalising on it but within seconds it was Zeuge back on the front foot.


The fight then followed a very similar pattern from rounds four through nine, Smith moving around but not letting his hands go as Zeuge dictated the pace and then every now and again turning up the pace. Round eight was the champion’s best, a couple of very hard and clean left hands had Smith back on the ropes but to be fair there was very little action to report.


No blame can be put on Zeuge for that, he did what he needed to do, but it is not a fight that will live long in the memory. Smith, to his credit, did try and rally in the championship rounds but calling it a "rally" is probably being generous. He did engage a little more than he had earlier but was unable to dent Zeuge or even harass him enough to make a mistake.


The final round saw a knockdown called but on reflection it was more of a stumble and trip but it did nothing to the scorecards, Smith would have needed his own brothers as judges to stand any chance of winning this one.


Zeuge will be happy with the victory, he certainly made a mockery of some of those who overlooked him, but he will face much more difficult tests in the future. The Super Middleweight division is thriving right now and I think there’ll be a few other fighters from Britain who’d fancy a shot.


For Smith I think retirement now beckons. He has given a good account of himself but he has been found lacking each and every time he has stepped up in class and I don’t think he’d settle for being a domestic level fighter. His gameplan was clearly to drag Zeuge late but he took nothing out of his opponent’s tank beforehand and had nothing in his own arsenal to swing it back in his favour.

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