Whilst this coming weekend features just a single world title fight though it's an intriguing one as WBO Super Middleweight champion Robert Stieglitz (42-2, 23) makes the seventh defense of his title as he faces the hard hitting, former IBF Middleweight champion Arthur Abraham (34-3, 27). Despite not being interesting on paper, at least in terms of real value, it's a fight that either allows Stieglitz to get some respect or allows Abraham to finally become a 2-weight champion and beat a long term title holder.
Despite being the champion the 31 year old Stieglitz is pretty unknown outside of Europe, specifically Germany, having fought just twice in the US and only 4 times outside of Germany. As a result of being unknown few will really give Stieglitz a chance despite not having seen him or really having known much about him. So lets take a look at the defending champion before moving on the the challenger.
Born in Yeysk, Russia, Stieglitz has been based in Germany for much of his life and it was in his adopted homeland that he made his professional debut back in 2001. With in 18 months of his professional debut he had raced away to 15-0 having been kept ridiculously active against very low level opponents. Stieglitz's first step up came when he faced Siarhei Karanevich for the IBF Youth Light Heavyweight title, out pointing Karanevich over 10 rounds to claim the belt.
After making a number of defenses of his IBF Youth Light Heavyweight title Stieglitz moved down a division, then claimed the IBF Youth Super Middleweight title before gradually climbing the IBF's Super Middleweight rankings. It wasn't until 2005 that Stieglitz first beat a recognised "name" fighter when he faced Alejandro Berrio (who had made his own name by stopping Syd Vanderpool 8 months earlier). Against Berrio Stieglitz claimed an 11th round TKO victory that was not only the biggest win of is career but also a fight that moved him into a mandatory contender position to fight for the vacant title. Sadly for Stieglitz, a rematch between the two was ordered for the world title and Berrio managed to avenge his loss stopping Stieglitz in 3 rounds.
A little over a year after losing to Berrio in his first world title fight Stieglitz would be stopped by Librado Andrade in the US in an IBF eliminator. For many fans in the US this will be the most famous bout of Stieglitz's career with it being part of the main feature on a HBO card headlined by Joel Casamayor v Michael Katsidis.
Since the loss to Andrade in 2008 Stieglitz has gone on an 11 fight winning streak which has seen him stopping the then unbeaten Karoly Balzsay (to claim the WBO world title) and making 6 successful defenses against the likes of Ruben Eduardo Acosta, Eduard Gutknecht, Enrique Ornelas and Khoren Gevor.
Sadly for the fans that haven't seen much of Stieglitz there little to really want to chase down. He's a hard working fighter who has solid technique but nothing really stands out about him, he lacks killer speed or fight ending power, he's not a whirling dervish in the ring and he's not particularly exciting. In all honesty he's everything wrong with the multiple-championship era that we live in. He's not like Felix Sturm where you can slate him for various reasons but respect him for his jab as he doesn't even have a single great, fight controlling weapon, in fact there is really little positive to say about Stieglitz other than that he's distinctly average.
Despite being positively average Stieglitz does appear to have a major flaw and one that will have Arthur Abraham rubbing his hands with glee, Stieglitz's durability is questionable at best. He's been stopped by both Librado Andrade and Alejandro Berrio and dropped a number of times through out his career. Whilst he's looked a bit sturdier in recent fights there is always going to be question marks about how he reacts when he is tagged.
So that's the champion, what about the challenger? Well the man formerly known as "King" Arthur Abraham, is a king no more, in fact in recent bouts he's been made to look somewhat like a pauper.
The 32 year old born in Yerevan, Armenia made his professional debut in 2003 though rose through the ranks a lot quicker than Stieglitz and by the end of 2005 Abraham had become the IBF Middleweight champion thanks to a 5th round KO over Kingsley Ikeke. At Middleweight Abraham was blessed with ungodly power which saw him taking out a huge number of his foes in memorable fashion, such as the KO that left Khoren Gevor unconscious despite the fact he was on his knees looking almost ready to pray.
Sadly despite being a clinical finisher Abraham's reign at Middleweight is best remember for his gory and controversial bout with Colombian banger Edison Miranda. In that bout Miranda had no less than 5 points deducted after repeatedly breaking the rules as he broke Abraham's jaw in the 4th round. Abraham showed the heart of a lion as he fought with a gruesomely disfigured face and managed to claim a hugely controversial win.
Whilst at Middleweight Abraham was a dominant title holder relying on his power to take out opponents at any time, his move to Super Middleweight has been a lot less impressive. As one of the fighters in the "Super 6 Boxing Classic" Abraham had high expectations, his reputation as a serious banger was well known and he was seen as one of the pre-tournement favourites. In his first bout he lived up to his reputation, wiping out former world champion Jermain Taylor in the 12th and final round. Sadly for Abraham he would then lose his following 3 Super 6 bouts, being embarrassingly frustrated and DQ'd as well as dropped (for the first time as a professional) by Andre Dirrel, being dominated by Carl Froch and being completely out performed by Andre Ward.
Following the Super 6 Abraham has rebuilt his confidence with 2 wins and now looks to claim a world title at the third time of asking in the Super Middleweight division. It's this part that makes the bout intriguing, Abraham has never beaten a top Super Middleweight, in fact he's never gotten close to beating a top Super Middleweight. His power doesn't seem to effect guys like it did down at 160lbs and with his style, which is built on his power and explosive changes in pace he can really be seen to struggle. If Abraham's power doesn't have the expected effect on Stieglitz it's unlikely Abraham can work hard enough to pick up the rounds.
Whilst both fighters are technically sound, the actually styles differ massively. In Stieglitz we have a fighter who will work and will spend periods of time working in and around range with a, well, average work rate. He may not have the power to trouble Abraham but he has the sort of cautious but steady work rate that can bag him rounds. Abraham on the other hand is slow (very slow) especially with his feet, he doesn't work a lot and he prefers to hide behind a solid high guard before working his way up close and launching a salvo before getting back behind his guard. Despite having a strong and hurtful jab Abraham rarely uses it to full effect, instead looking to move in close.
If (and this is a huge if) Stieglitz can stand up to the power of the challenger then I'd expect him to retain the title by clear decision, a victory that would seriously elevate Stieglitz's standing in professional boxing. Problem with that however is that Stieglitz has been stopped twice in the past so it's doubtful he can stand up to Abraham's thudding power. If Abraham can land a bomb, at any time, I suspect Stieglitz will be stopped soon afterwards with Abraham then claiming a second divisional title and becoming a fixture once more on the title stage.
This is a bit of a funny bout in regard to the fact that the loser will be downplayed no matter who wins. If Stieglitz wins we will hear about how Abraham's record at 168lbs is dreadful (which it is) yet Stieglitz will still be able to gain from the win by joining the likes of Froch and Ward. If Abraham wins he'll have claimed a "big one" at 168lbs and dethroned a fighter who has been champion for 3 years. He'll be able to open the doors either locally for easy defences or internationally if he wishes to unify the title.
Prediction-Abraham by TKO 9
By it's self this isn't an important match, at least not on paper, though the fact the winner throws themselves straight back into the mix with the other champions is a very notable issue.