The O2 World in Berlin was the host of the major bout of the weekend as hard punching, former IBF Middleweight champion Arthur Abraham (35-3, 27) claimed the WBO Super Middleweight title from the much maligned Robert Stieglitz (42-3, 23) in a thoroughly engaging bout that ebbed and flowed wonderfully.
Stieglitz started brightly and whilst he probably gave away the opening he grew in confidence over the following few rounds often forcing Abraham onto the back foot an unleashing eye catching flurries as he sought to bank the early rounds. Abraham, for his part was blocking many of Stieglitz's shots behind his shell like guard whilst looking for chances to unleash his own, much heavier, artillery. Despite not being anywhere near as busy Abraham was landing the much cleaner shots, often piercing right through Stieglitz's guard.
Whilst I had Stieglitz in a slight lead after 4 rounds, Abraham showed his class in round 5 really dominating the defending champion as he marked up his face and appeared to shake him with a really nasty 2 handed salvo that showed just how good Abraham can be when he lets his hands go. Abraham then continued his charge as he took control of the middle rounds, stalking the champion, who was beginning to show signs of tiring. Stieglitz was really starting to show the scars of a battle after rounds 6 and 7 with his face becoming seriously reddened by the thunderous shots of Abraham which were starting to find their target almost at will.
Just as it appeared that Abraham was going to go in for the kill Stieglitz found his second wind, bit down on his gum shield and fought back, like a champion. Stieglitz wasn't going to give up his title with out a fight and despite having both his nose and right eye bleeding noticeably he fought on pressing the action and forcing the fight in the later rounds. A tired looking Abraham was forced on to the back foot time and time as Stieglitz worked incredibly hard trying to cling to his title. Despite looking beaten up Stieglitz just kept coming, attack after attack as he tried so hard to keep his title against a man who just couldn't miss him when he threw.
In the final round we saw Abraham throwing his arms in the air, dancing away in early celebration. It appeared a very risky strategy in a fight that looked incredibly close and could well have seen Stieglitz in the lead going into the 12th and final round. Luckily for Abraham however the judges had him in a comfortable lead with the Armenian born German based fighter taking a unanimous decision with scores of 116-112 (twice) and 115-113. In my eyes, the 116-112 scores were too wide as I fail to see 8 rounds you could have awarded to Abraham. A score of 115-113 either way would have been acceptable though as it was a very closely fought bout. Abraham however will not be a dominant champion at Super Middleweight, his power doesn't have the effect it used to have at Middleweight and Stieglitz, a supposedly "chinny" fighter stood up to a number of solid and clear Abraham right hands.
Now a 2-weight world champion Abraham has put his name in to the history books joining a long list of other 2-weight champions however his reign at 168 is likely to be limited to say the least.