Abraham – Smith II: The More Things Change

SAME STORY, NO COMMOTION – WBO super-middleweight title holder Arthur Abraham and challenger Paul Smith both promised a knockout in their rematch, which pretty much guaranteed a full distance fight at the O2 World in Berlin, a city of attractions. A good crowd of approximately 8,000 fans proved “King Arthur” is still a popular attraction.

At a battle-worn 35 years, sooner or later Abraham will find himself having grown old in the ring. For now, it looked like he’s still got a couple more solid performances left before that happens.

“This was not easy,” summarized Abraham. “He fought hard the entire time, and I was impressed how he took some big punches.”

Scoring was similar to their initial encounter, at 116-112 and 117-111 twice. The pairing is likely one of those stylistic situations in which the fighters could meet a dozen times with little to separate them round by round. Abraham stayed slightly, but ever so increasingly, ahead the entire way.

Smith or his supporters didn’t have anything to howl about like the furor that erupted, primarily from Smith’s side of the ring, after their initial encounter last September. Subsequent reviews indicated scant cause for outrage.

Smith’s KO percentage tells you all you need to know about why he was probably chosen in the first place. As in the first affair, he hit Abraham plenty, but it was even less than enough for act two, as Abraham’s right hand seemed to trouble Smith more than it did before.

There were moments around the sixth session in which it appeared Smith had finally achieved the breakthrough he needed. Still, even when giving ground Abraham looked stronger, and he eventually dominated the second half of the fight.

Abraham has not stopped an opponent since Mehdi Bouadla in December 2012. That may be an indication of diminishing punching power, but it doesn’t represent a barrier to victory yet.

Abraham improved to 42-4 (28), Smith is now 35-5 (20). Smith’s career gained a boost from the respectable, high-profile defeats.

Next for Abraham could be a fourth installment of his rivalry with Robert Stieglitz. Somewhere down the line, a huge (in Germany at least) showdown with Felix Sturm finally appears likely.

“I have already fought Stieglitz three times,” mused Abraham. “I would prefer to go right to Sturm, at last.”

Abraham had his problems when he traveled abroad for ill-fated contests in the Super Six tournament. He seems to have regained his mauling mojo, and these days in his adopted Deutsch homeland, he is still a king.