LOTSA LUMPS – As usual, Arthur Abraham looked very strong and he looked very vulnerable.
Abraham, now 41- 4 (28), defended his WBO Super-middleweight title with a wide unanimous decision over inspired British challenger Paul Smith, 35- 4 (20).
The official margins of victory (117-111 twice, 119-109) may have seemed a bit harsh, considering much of the battle was very close. Still, Abraham may have barely won many rounds, but win them he did. That amounted to lopsided scoring. The Sweet Science saw it 118-112.
“I was in control all the time with my jab and I hit him with a lot of right hands,” said Abraham. “It is always great to fight in front of my fans, who give me strength. Now I want the winner of (Felix) Sturm versus (Robert) Stieglitz.”
Smith had hundreds of his own vocal UK supporters make the trip to Kiel, but an unusually loud German crowd maintained roaring energy for Abraham. The determined Smith didn’t really need any help. He fought hard and kept it interesting all the way.
Abraham was slightly marked beneath each eye and looked like he would have a couple knots in the morning while Smith’s reddened face displayed numerous nicks. Neither fighter was ever seriously stung or in any trouble.
Smith started well and Abraham looked a bit surprised at Smith’s speed and punch volume. Abraham never did cut off the ring, but eventually he forced Smith into the strands with increased combinations. Both men landed and absorbed wicked body shots.
Smith kept countering, even as he got tagged more and more. Abraham blocked a large percentage of Smith’s punches with a vertical, peek-a-boo posture, then came around with big, swarming combinations.
It was anybody’s fight at the midway point, but by the tenth it looked like Abraham had wrapped up the victory. That didn’t keep Smith from trying. He was in the fight from bell to bell.
It was a very good bout. Each man threw multiple punches from around the third session onward. Referee Robert Byrd did nice job letting the fighters’ styles mesh. Abraham clinched once, around the 11th, Smith fought like he wouldn’t think of such a thing.
Smith picked a few sour grapes as the verdict was announced, but properly glided into a more gracious mode before the post fight press conference. He can return to Liverpool with his chin up and contending status intact.
As for Abraham, it looks like a nice payday against another German star, probably early next year. The 34 year old Abraham says he will fight as long as his coach who is nearing retirement, Ulli Wegner, is with him. This time next year there is likely to be a different story around Abraham, now in his 11th year as a professional.
“King” Arthur may not be elite boxing royalty any more after “Super Six” misadventures away from home but he’s still got a belt, he’s still got a crowd, and it looks like he’s still got plenty of excellent rounds left in the tank.