HALLE, WESTFALEN – Arthur Abraham brought his three-year, four-fight rivalry with Robert Stieglitz to an indisputable conclusion with a mesmerizing 6th round TKO. Until just moments before that, the contest had been typically close and typically exciting.
“At this level there are no easy fights, no mater what happens,” summarized a slightly marked Abraham. “This was very hard to achieve, but the important thing is that I won.”
Gerry Weber Stadium is a very cool looking place. Known for tennis and framed in green, watching the crowd’s late afternoon arrival in the relatively isolated countryside, you could imagine what it might have been like in Pierce Egan’s Boxiana days. as a swarm converged across the hills for a bare knuckle battle.
Abraham and Stieglitz had already fought 29 rounds against each other, but the rivalry remained unresolved. Abraham had a 2 – 1 lead in the controversial series, but Stieglitz had the only stoppage between them in the deadlock.
All judges and ref Earl Brown hailed from the US. Let’s hope that says something about fairness. It didn’t bode well for Stieglitz that nobody on his side of the line-up card was victorious prior to the main event.
Perhaps in relation to the previous trilogy, there were three sets of introductions from entertaining UK ring announcer Russ Bray.
They traded exploratory jabs in the first frame as both wound up with wild rights. The initial round was basically even, but just before the bell Stieglitz landed a single counter to the point of Abraham’s chin. It was the only clean tag of the session, so we gave it to the challenger.
During the pause trainer Ulli Wegner, unusually calm, asked Abraham for more action. Abraham delivered, but paid the price with a broken tooth and a bloody nose as Stieglitz’s busier work rate gate him a slight early edge.
Both men threw multiple combinations and started to find the range in round two but there was still little to spate them on the scorecards.
In the 3rd, Abraham knocked Stieglitz off balance with right hands that started to land with increased frequency. Abraham was credited with a flash knockdown in the 4th but replays showed it was actually a slip from tangled feet. To his credit, Stieglitz kept fighting without complaint.
In a consistent pattern, Stieglitz continued to pepper for much of a round until Abraham roared back behind big right hands. For the reserved Abraham, it was an act of extreme bravado when he motioned a wind-up with his right glove, but it was also a hint of what was to come.
Abraham’s strength had him in control by the middle rounds, but he looked like he was getting winded. It still appeared to be anybody’s fight in the 6th session, when a very compact, very devastating right counter caught Stieglitz on the temple and froze him into one of those surreal, spellbinding scatterings of consciousness that terrifies and thrills a crowd.
Stieglitz’s body planked and his face showed a disconnection from reality. He looked like a short-circuiting robot as his hands moved in instinctive spasms, while he crumbled to his knees in a reflex action, some spark inside still trying to fight back.
Stieglitz took the count and jumped up just in time, looking ready for more. Just as ref Earl Brown prepared to motion them in, Abraham pointed to Stieglitz’s corner, where trainer Dirk Dzemski stood holding a towel aloft in concession.
It was one of the most dramatic TKOs we’ve seen, and an absolutely great call by Stieglitz’s corner. Official time was 1:14.
“I didn’t pay enough attention to his right hand,” admitted Stieglitz, now 47-5-1 (27). “My trainer made the right decision.”
For Stieglitz, it was the brutal type of loss that has to make a fighter consider their future in the sport. The good news is that Stieglitz’s team at SES Promotions seems like the type to always put the fighter’s health first.
For WBO champion Abraham, it was his first knockout since 2012 and improved his already considerable marketability in Germany. The fight drew a 16.2 market share for broadcaster SAT.1, with 3.61 million viewers in a country much smaller than the US.
It might not be his most prudent move, but it would sure be nice to see what happens if Abraham and GGG start trading hooks. Too bad the necessary financial incentive for Abraham is probably prohibitive.
A rematch with Andre Ward has also been mentioned as a possible option, but that seems highly unlikely though I think Abraham did a better job against a then-prime Ward than Abraham was given credit for in the Super Six tournament.
A match with WBA “whatever it is” super-middleweight titlist Fedor Chudinov would be highly entertaining, but certainly not the best risk/reward move since the relatively unknown Chudinov looks like GGG did a few years back, a formidable force about to emerge.
It would also be highly entertaining and probably highly profitable if Abraham and Felix Sturm finally engaged, but Sturm’s plans are reportedly still pending a spiritual revelation in Mecca, during more important reflections.
As Egan might have noted about Abraham: “The German can be righteously content that the sporting fancy continued to smile brightly upon his rugged personage, and will be quite induced to witness his next bold adventure in the noble arts. This was a spectacle of pugilism’s near-highest echelon, until landed the cruel finisher which sent those witnesses back to their comfortable chambers in awe and lust for continued conkers. In the pubs, they toasted the victor until dawn.”
Whatever the time or twilight zone, it was a fine evening at the fights that made it look like the sport is indeed, timeless.
For now, Abraham, 43-4 (29), remains atop a comfortable boxing scene in Western Europe. “King Arthur” may not truly rule the 168-pound division, but he has earned the newly-trending moniker “Abra-hammer” in these parts.
He definitely put the hammer down on his rivalry with Stieglitz tonight.