By John J. Raspanti: In a span of 14 months, Arthur Abraham lost three out of four fights. What made the losses so troubling was the fact that Abraham was barely competitive in the matches.
Five years ago at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit Michigan, Andre Dirrell was leading comfortably against Abraham when he slipped to the canvas in round 11.
In a desperate move, Abraham felled Dirrell with an illegal blow--drawing an immediate disqualification.
Eleven months after his defeat, Carl Froch kept his long jab in Abraham’s face. The result was a wide decision loss.
Abraham won a meaningless bout in Germany before facing Andre Ward.
On May 14, 2011, Ward easily outboxed the much slower Abraham. By the third round it was obvious that Abraham would have to score a knockout to win.
Easier said than done against a fighter of Ward’s defensive abilities.
Ward won all 12 rounds according to one judge and many ringside fans.
In the blink of an eye, Abraham had gone from an undefeated IBF middleweight champion to a limited and overrated fighter. After his loss to Ward, he was advised to hang up his gloves. Instead, Abraham, now 31, ignored the retirement talk and licked his wounds for six months.
Abraham won his next two fights in Europe against limited opposition before facing WBO super middleweight champion Robert Stieglitz at the 02 World Arena in Germany.
Most experts expected the younger Stieglitz to prevail. He was younger, hungrier, and fresher. Abraham had other ideas. He had come to the realization that he couldn’t stop opponents in the 168 pound division. He’d pick his spots and look to counter-punch.
The strategy worked beautifully against Stieglitz. Abraham won the match by unanimous decision.
Abraham was a champion again.
Unfortunately, his victory was short-lived. Eight months later, Stieglitz got his revenge by stopping Abraham in four frames.
Again Abraham was advised to quit, but he’s nothing if not stubborn. He and his team used the same formula that worked so well the previous year. He took some time off, won a couple of tune-up fights, and faced Stieglitz for a third time in Germany.
Abraham rallied from an early deficit to win the match by split decision. A big left hook floored Stieglitz in the last round. Abraham went on to defend his WBO super middleweight championship three times. His performances were spotty. At times he resembled a fighter going through the motions, but he was winning due to shrewd matchmaking by his promoter.
Stieglitz, who had lost two out of three fights to Abraham, wanted another crack at the balding champion. He likened Abraham to an old rocking chair. Abraham accepted the challenge. He predicted a knockout, something he hadn’t done in almost three years.
Abraham fulfilled his prophecy. He battered Stieglitz from pillar to post—forcing referee Earl Brown to wave off the contest in Round six.
On November 21, Abraham, (43-4, 29 KOs) will face Martin Murray (32-2-1, 15 KOs) at the TUI Arena in Hannover. Murray has had three shots at middleweight honors, but came up short each time. In 2011, he and Felix Strum battled to a draw. Two years later he traveled to Argentina to face hometown hero Sergio Martinez. He knocked Martinez down, but still lost a very close decision. His last crack at a title was against knockout artist Gennady Golovkin in Monte Carlo.
Murray hung around for 11 rounds, until Golovkin put him out of his misery. Murray moved up to the super middleweight division, stopped three opponents in a row, and was caught off guard when he was offered a chance to fight Abraham.
“I am thrilled to have the chance to face Arthur for the WBO World Super Middleweight title,’’ said Murray at the press conference announcing the bout a few months ago. ‘’I was shocked when Arthur agreed to the fight. It’s one he didn’t have to take so he must be confident. But I’m at my natural weight now and believe on November twenty-first I will become World champion.”
Abraham, now 35, is very aware of Murray’s boxing ability.
“Martin is a very strong opponent,’’ said Abraham. ‘’He has challenged for World titles three times before and on two of those occasion he should of won. He is a very deserving challenger and I think it will be a good fight. That is what the public want to see – the best fighting the best – and that is what they will see on November 21 in Hannover.’’
On paper this a 50-50 fight. Both men are determined.
Murray wants to taste that championship feeling.
Abraham has silenced many of his critics. He might not be a great fighter, but he’s an extremely resilient one.
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November 13, 2015