Arthur Abraham possibly saved his boxing career on Aug. 25 when he beat Robert Stieglitz by a 12-round unanimous decision to win the WBO version of the super middleweight championship. The card was called the Last Chance, and Abraham took it. A loss by the Armenian-born German fighter could have meant the end of his reign as one of the sport’s elite fighters even though he’s a former IBF middleweight champion who defended his crown 10 times from 2005 to 2009.
The fight took place in Berlin Germany, where Stieglitz, who was born in Russia, also makes his home. Abraham is known as a power puncher while Stieglitz is regarded as more of a boxer. It represented Abraham’s last chance at the big time since he suffered a disastrous showing in the Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament which took place last year.
The 32-year-old Abraham started out well enough in that event with a last-round knockout over former world champion Jermain Taylor. However, things quickly went downhill from there. He was disqualified in the 11th round of his contest with Andre Dirrell after hitting his opponent while he was down. He then fought Englishman Carl Froch and American Andre Ward in world title bouts in the tournament, but lost by unanimous decision on both occasions.
It was the way Abraham lost that led many to believe he was finished as a top boxer since he didn’t let his hands go against Froch and Ward and was easily beaten as he didn’t mount any offense. He beat two mediocre opponents earlier this year, but didn’t look like the power-punching Abraham of old. Still, he earned a shot at Stieglitz, the 31-year-old champion, and he made the best of his opportunity.
Stieglitz was attempting to defend his title for the seventh time after winning it back in the summer of 2009 via an 11th-round KO over Karoly Balzsay. However, he’s never met a fighter of Abraham’s class before. With both fighters being based in Germany, it wasn’t a surprise that 14,000 fans showed up at the O2 World Arena in Berlin to see them slug it out. They went home satisfied too as the pair of them put on an exciting and competitive fight with plenty of ebb and flow and sharp punching.
As usual, Abraham got off to a pretty slow start and Stieglitz appeared to be racking up the points in the early going. The tide changed a little in the fifth round though as Abraham started to pick up the pace. Stieglitz was still throwing more shots, but Abraham’s were definitely more powerful. Stieglitz managed to weather the storm and fought well in final few rounds. The damage had been done though and Stieglitz had cuts to both of his eyes. The fight was halted in the 10th round by referee Joe Cortez, who asked the ringside doctor to check the former champion out.
The doctor allowed the fight to continue and it wound up with an action-packed pair of rounds in the 11th and 12th. It was a close fight, but Abraham took it by scores of 116-112, 116-112, and 115-113. With the win, Abraham raises his record to 35-3 with 27 KOS while Stieglitz falls to 42-3 with 23 KOS. Stieglitz said he made numerous mistakes in the bout and wasn’t upset with the decision. He said he had a problem seeing out of his left eye after the seventh round and did the best he could.
A rematch is certainly possible, but Abraham will first defend his new title on Dec. 15 against an unnamed opponent.