“When he first came to us in 2003, he was with a plastic bag in his hand,” recalls promoter Wilfried Sauerland. “He was with his brother (Alexander). And they didn’t even have the money to pay for the fare on the tube. They were completely broke and they came as sparring partners.”
Abraham was born in Armenia and moved to Germany when he was 14. Arthur was an amateur cyclist, and was the South German champion twice when he was 14-15. But he found cycling “boring” and decided to start boxing when he was 18.
As an amateur, Abraham compiled a record of 81-6-3. He moved back to Armenia to attempt to make the 2000 Olympic team, but he was forced to fulfill a military obligation and was in the Armenian army for two years. He returned to Germany in 2003 to resume his boxing aspirations. He went to Sauerland’s gym, the Max Schmeling gym and immediately made a positive impression.
“He had sparring with Sven Ottke (the former WBA/IBF Super Middleweight champion). The trainer called me – I was in Switzerland – he said, The one guy is a big talent,” says Sauerland. “So I came over. And I never forget. He did sparring with a guy named Butler from the U.S. And in sparring, Arthur knocked him out in the second round. And then I said, He can have a contract.”
It was Ottke’s evaluations which persuaded Sauerland. “Sven Ottke, who was a very experienced guy and was very critical of other fighters, said, He’s the one who can really make it very, very big. It was a few weeks after he came with the plastic bag. They were sparring together. Sven said he has to learn. But he has exceptional talent.”
Abraham turned pro on August 16, 2003 in Adenau, Germany against Frank Kary. “My first fight at age 23 I was too much scared, afraid,” remembers Abraham. “But I won by TKO in round three.” 17 fights later he faced the six-foot-four-inch giant Kingsley Ikeke for the vacant IBF Middleweight title in Leipzig in 2005. Abraham dominated, outworked and landed the harder blows. In the fifth round, Abraham exploded two big rights on Ikeke which forced the stoppage as the California-based African was stumbling across the ring.
Abraham made ten world title defenses as IBF Middleweight champ, the most recent being a TKO 10 win over Mahir Oral on June 27. Now Abraham (30-0, 24 KO’s) will move up to 168 to compete in the SHOWTIME Super Six “World Boxing Classic” where his first opponent will be Jermain Taylor later this year.