Germany hosts a big triple header Saturday night at the Sport and Congress Center in Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Three regional title bouts taking place with all three possibly leading to world title contention for the winners.
Headlining the card is hometown favorite Juergen Braehmer (40-2, 31 KO’s) defending the EBU and WBO Intercontinental light heavyweight titles against Stefano Abatangelo (17-2-1, 6 KO’s). Braehmer is a former WBO world champion, and has also been a title holder in the super middleweight division earlier in his career. Since his loss to Hugo Garay in 2008 for the WBA light heavyweight belt, he’s won nine straight (six KO’s) including a 12 round decision over another top German fighter, Eduard Gutknecht, that won him the two titles he currently holds. Being the number one contender for the WBO world title, a win would set up a shot against newly crowned champion Sergey Kovalev.
To say Abatangelo is a long shot is an understatement. The current Italy light heavyweight title holder is unbeaten in his last 12 bouts, but his opposition has been questionable for the most part, fighting only six opponents with winning records. Coming in to this fight, he’s a guy with nothing to lose, which can always make an opponent dangerous. The general feeling is that he’ll make it to the middle rounds before Braehmer stops him.
In a co-feature bout, the number one ranked IBF heavyweight and current EBU and IBF International heavyweight champion Kubrat Pulev (17-0, 9 KO’s) faces two time world title challenger Tony Thompson (38-3, 26 KO’s). Pulev is a well accomplished amateur with solid boxing fundamentals and likes to use his jab to control a fight. He’s seen plenty of name opposition: Matt Skelton, Dominick Guinn, Michael Sprott, Alexander Dimitrenko, and most recently Alexander Ustinov, having his last three wins come by late round stoppage.
At 41 years old, Tony Thompson’s best days may be behind him but he can still make this a competitive fight. After failing in two tries at the world heavyweight crown, facing Wladimir Klitschko on both occasions, he’s put himself in position to get back within the top rankings by scoring back to back stoppage wins over the U.K.’s David Price. He doesn’t possess the skills of Pulev, but can take advantage of Pulev’s recent inactivity by jumping on him early. He’ll keep things close in the opening half, but Pulev will take control in the middle rounds and score a late round stoppage or win by unanimous decision.
Arthur Abraham (36-4, 28 KO’s) faces Willbeforce Shihepo (20-6, 15 KO’s) in a super-middleweight bout for the vacant WBO Intercontinental super-middleweight title. Abraham held the IBF middleweight title from 2005-2009 and was considered among the top middleweights in the world. After an underwhelming performance in Showtime’s “Super Six” tournament, where he lost three out of four bouts, he remained at super middleweight and returned to Germany to win the WBO European super middleweight title, then the WBO world super middleweight title from reigning champion Robert Stieglitz. Stieglitz would dominate the rematch seven months later, dealing Abraham his fourth defeat via fourth round TKO. This could be Abraham’s last real chance at remaining relevant in the division.
Shihepo is your typical “rough around the edges” type of fighter. With a career based in Nambia for the most part, there’s not much to be said about him, except that he’s fortunate to have this opportunity. Early on it was said that Abraham was threatening to pull out of the fight and retire, being unhappy about the money he was going to collect. With that red tape out of the way, this is a huge opportunity for the WBO Africa super middleweight champ though in all reality, he stands little chance. In 2007, he split a pair of six rounder’s with Isaac Chilemba, but hasn’t faced anyone of note since. Unless he’s completely shot, this should be relatively easy work for Abraham.