Arthur Abraham figured he had one overwhelming asset that would lead him to get the better of Robert Stieglitz once again, in a rematch of their fight from August of last year.
Abraham took the WBO 168 pound title from Stieglitz, and they battled in Magdeburg, hometown to the Russian-born Stieglitz, on Saturday night, and on EPIX, in the Getec Arena. "The King" knew that he had a power edge on Stieglitz, who could amp up the volume but couldn't match the ability to concuss with a single shot. Or so most thought...
Stieglitz played the part of the power puncher, not his usual role, coming out banging at Getec. He was energized to a wicked degree, and buzzed Abraham in the second, even had his left eye closing. The hometowner had Abraham dazed and looking to hold in the third, as Abe, a notoriously late starter, held on for dear life, hoping against a draining measure of hope that he'd make it to those later rounds where he'd usually been able to grind his man down.
The ref and the doc looked hard at the eye, and with it clear that Abraham would from then on be fighting with a single functional eye, pulled the plug on Abraham after the third. Stieglitz, winner via TKO4, emerged as a new player at 168 and could get some buzz as a potential foe for Andre Ward, or more likely the winner of the forthcoming Carl Froch-Mikkel Kessler faceoff.
"It was a good stoppage," said EPIX analyst-promoter Lou Dibella afterwards. Abraham is now on a slide, officially, Dibella added and 168 may not be the right stomping ground for him, as he seems to too often get stomped there.
Abraham (36-3 with 28 KOs entering), a former middleweight titlist who was favored to win the Showtime Super Six tourney a few years ago, but washed out, said coming in that he's now comfortable at this weight class. The 33-year-old, born in Armenia, said that the 31-year-old Stieglitz (43-3 with 24 KOs entering) wouldn't have a home field advantage, as he'd have many fans coming from the Berlin area.
Stieglitz came out winging in round one. He was ultra-busy and Abe had the earmuffs up. In round two, he hurt Abe, with a power right. In the third, Abe held on and his left eye was almost closed. He tried rabbit punches in the second and again in the third, and had a point taken for that tactic in round three.
The ref had the doc look at it after the round and pulled the plug. Stieglitz had his hand raised, as Abraham looked forlorn, his left eye totally closed, along the same lines, one could argue, as his prospects on the big stage at super middle or maybe anywhere.
Heavyweight Robert Helenius took on Michael Sprott, in a bid to be seen as a contender and foe for a Klitschko, in the main undercard bout before the Arthur Abraham-Robert Stiegliz rematch from Getech Arena in Magdeburg, Germany on Saturday.
The 18-0 Swedish-born hitter, No. 1 in the WBO, was in with a 36-19 guy on the downside, and hoping to look good after getting a gift win over Dereck Chisora and then looking boring in a win over Sherman Williams.
EPIX, the pay movie channel, televised and offered a stream on computers and boxes.*
Helenius, age 29, weighed 238, while Sprott, age 38, was 243.
I saw Helenius a 7-3 winner. He started out with a decent jab, and was persistent with it. Sprott took the third, when he got more aggressive, with overhand rights and left hooks. He had decent luck in the fifth, with more effective power shots. But in the seventh, Sprott was buzzed, with sharp rights and hooks. Helenius didn't come out nasty to close in the tenth and he probably gave that one away too. Overall, Helenius needed to be busier. He doesn't try to do damage with his jab, and while he does put together combos, it seems as if he lacks a mean streak.
He said after to Bruce Beck of EPIX that he wasn't in a zone and that mainly because his right hand hurt after round two. He called himself "lazy" and said he needs to look better to be thought of as a legit contender versus a Klitschko. During the show, analyst Lou DiBella said he didn't want to see Helenius again, unless it's against a top ten test.
We saw George Groves pound out Baker Barakat, and stop him in the second round, while upping his record to 18-0, in the TV opener. Barakat went to 37-14. The super middle victor fought for the second time in two weeks. He'll fight again on the Froch-Kessler undercard.
Bruce Beck asked him about being with four promoters in four years, and he said he will stick with Eddie Hearn. He said he thinks he could beat the main eventers tonight, Arthur Abraham and Robert Stieglitz.
He did show some nice things, like doubling and tripling up on the jab, and throwing combos, which impressed analyst Lou DiBella.
EPIX will show the replay tonight at Midnight ET. EpixHD.com will have the replay available on demand, for EPIX subscribers and those taking advantage of the special free trial offer.
EPIX Telecast highlights can be accessed via this link (U.S. only):
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