Arthur stops Marquez to retain IBF middleweight title
King Arthur Abraham cruised to an uncontested seventh-round TKO victory over Raul Marquez in Bamberg on Saturday night. The undefeated IBF middleweight champion (28-0, 23 KOs) used his explosiveness and punching power to wear the mandatory challenger down. After absorbing numerous heavy shots throughout, Marquez quit on his stool after the sixth round. “That was another great performance by Arthur,” coach Ulli Wegner lauded. “He fought very cleverly. There is nobody in the middleweight division who can beat him.”
Abraham could count on some special support this time out as he was fighting in front of a ferocious sell-out crowd in his home city. With 6.000 fans in the arena and famous German TV entertainer Oliver Pocher, who carried the IBF belt, in his corner, King Arthur put on a show from the first bell on. Unlike in other fights when he used to start slowly, he rocked Marquez with a couple of big hands in the first round. “That was our game plan,” Abraham revealed. “I wanted to make my presence known to Marquez. I wanted to impress him early for him to stay on the back foot.”
The tactics worked, with Abraham continuously firing in heavy combinations in the following. Soon Marquez´ face was badly marked, and after King Arthur landed two punishing rights, a cut opened above the challenger’s right eye. The 37-year-old tried to fight back but most of his shots were absorbed by Abraham´s defense. In the sixth, King Arthur turned it on and caught his opponent in the ropes with a few heavy combinations. It was too much for the brave challenger (41-4, 29 KOs), who would not come out for the seventh round. “There was no need to continue,” he explained. “My family is in my corner and they did not want me to get further punishment. I hit him with my best shots but he is a very strong guy. He punches very hard and very precisely. He really is a great champion.” While Abraham admitted he was “disappointed not to grant his home fans a more spectacular ending”, Wegner praised Marquez´ corner for their decision. “It was the right thing to do,” he said. “Marquez would have been knocked out badly very soon.” Abraham was full of praise for his opponent, who announced his retirement in the ring. “He is a great fighter and a great person and it would be nice if there were more boxers like him out there.”
Next up for King Arthur could be a unification clash with either Felix Sturm or Kelly Pavlik. “We are still very interested in making the Sturm fight happen,” manager Wilfried Sauerland said. “But it would have to happen either in February or March because Arthur wants to fight Kelly Pavlik next summer to determine the super-champion. After winning that fight Arthur will then move up to super-middleweight.” King Arthur even stated he would fight Sturm for free. “Everybody in Germany wants to see the fight. I am ready. Money does not matter. This is about the honour.” Asked about how the all-German showdown would end, Marquez said: “Abraham will win by KO.”
On the undercard, Enad Licina (15-1, 9 KOs) clinched the IBF Intercontinental Cruiserweight Title with a third-round KO victory over Otis Griffin (19-4, 7 KOs). The 28-year-old German fired in heavy combinations to dust his opponent twice, with a strong left hook sealing the American´s fate. “I am very pleased with my performance, today was my day,” Licina smiled afterwards. “I have worked very hard with my coach Manfred Wolke and it paid off today. I expected a tougher fight but I am happy about the outcome.” Added Wolke: “He has a lot of potential and I have no doubts Enad will make his way to the top.” Also on Saturday night, middleweight hopeful Dominik Britsch (11-0, 4 KOs) scored an uncontested points victory over Amar Amari.