by Johnny Walker
In the weekend’s most interesting boxing matchup, “King” Arthur Abraham (34-3, 27 KOs), an Armenian fighting out of Germany, squares off with current WBO Champion Robert Stieglitz (42-2, 23 KOs) at the o2 World in Berlin in a showdown that will have a major impact on the talent-laden super middleweight division.
Former middleweight champion Abraham, you may recall, was picked by many boxing experts to run away with Showtime’s Super Six super middleweight tournament when he knocked Jermain Taylor cold in 2009. But since that time, the Armenian star’s crown has become tarnished, with losses to Andre Dirrell, Carl Froch, and Andre Ward throwing Abraham’s boxing fortunes into a tailspin.
Since his loss to Ward, Abraham has gone back to the basics and ground out two workmanlike wins over mid-level opposition.
But now comes the real test: can King Arthur force his way back into the super middleweight picture by grabbing a major title? Or will he be consigned to history as a fighter who couldn’t make the leap from middleweight to super middle?
Abraham knows just what is on the line on Saturday: “From this point onwards, every fight is going to be a last chance for me,” he said at the fight’s final press conference. “But I will grab it with both hands. No matter if the fight goes the distance or not – I will prove a point on Saturday.”
Stieglitz is not widely known in North America, and carries the rep of being a slick boxer who has faced mostly B-level opposition. The Russian-born fighter’s coach, Dirk Dzemski, says his man is going to prove too wily for King Arthur: “We are going to keep the belt. We detected a lot of weaknesses while watching Abraham and we will take full advantage of them,” says the trainer.
There is no doubt, however, that Abraham, who no matter what shortcomings he has as a boxer–his peek-a-boo defensive style and tendency to throw wide punches can be used against him– is a man who possesses tremendous power, and is a big step up for the WBO champ.
Abraham’s trainer Ulli Wegner, for one, thinks his man will prove to be far too much for Stieglitz: “We are going to wipe the floor with them and that’s the end of the story,” he predicts.
The end of one story, perhaps, but also the start of another chapter in the legend of King Arthur.