by Johnny Walker
In a grueling third installment of a tough rivalry, “King” Arthur Abraham reclaimed his crown by split decision tonight from the now former WBO super middleweight champion Robert Stieglitz in a twelve-round contest at the GETEC Arena, in Magdeburg, Germany.
Abraham (39-4, 28 KOs) was thought by many to be finished after being easily destroyed in four rounds last time out against Stieglitz, but after a couple of mediocre tune-up wins, Abraham shocked the boxing world by coming out tonight and using the visibly over-amped champion’s aggression against him in the completion of their trilogy.
Time and time again, Stieglitz (46-4-0, 26 KOs) began rounds in a blaze of action, only to just miss the mark and get caught by a hard, clean counter-punching challenger, who is usually the aggressive one in any given bout.
An early clash of heads started some swelling over Abraham’s left eye, but the challenger’s team thankfully kept the swelling to a minimum. Stieglitz kept pouring on the pressure but was often inaccurate, and Abraham used a a sharp jab and some stinging left hooks to score points early on.
By round six, the champion began to show some damage around his right eye as a result of Abraham’s accurate jabs and hooks. Undaunted, Stieglitz again came on strong, this time landing some good body shots, but Abraham came back with a mixture of left hooks and straight rights to the head. The action here intensified into some of the best of the fight, both men flurrying as the round ended, with Abraham finally landing with a solid left lead.
Rounds seven and eight again saw a more relaxed Abraham and an increasingly tense champion engaging, as Stieglitz started fast but again saw any attempt at momentum halted by some huge power counters from Abraham. Throughout the fight, it was clear that the challenger’s blows were often crisp and accurate, while the over-adrenalized champion was not cleanly finding his target often enough.
Stieglitz did catch a break in round eight when referee Genaro Rodriguez deducted a point from Abraham for hitting on the break. The penalty, which seemed to this writer a bit harsh, only served to even things up, as Abraham landed some big power shots during the round.
Perhaps Rodriguez felt a make-up call was in order, because Stieglitz was then hit with a point deduction in the following round for holding. This was on top of a double-left hook landed by King Arthur that hurt Stieglitz, who was visibly beginning to wear down.
Abraham hasn’t often been noted for his great ring movement, but on this night it was indeed the challenger who seemed to glide around the ring. Round ten saw the once and future King land a blistering left-right combo, and also a right hand power shot that continued to take the steam out of Stieglitz.
After a brutal series of exchanges in the penultimate round, Stieglitz, sensing that things were headed in the wrong direction for him as the final frame commenced, launched an all-out assault on Abraham that saw the challenger hanging on in the first half of the round. But a punched-out and desperate champion then slipped up and got caught by a crushing right on the chin from his powerful adversary that put him on the mat.
This seemed to throw not only Stieglitz, but referee Rodriguez himself, into a tizzy, because the UK announcers of the fight counted a 17 second interval from the time Stieglitz hit the floor until the time the fight commenced. At one point, Rodriguez seemed to signal to Abraham that the fight was waved off, but after some static from the champion’s corner, the fight indeed continued.
This was a poor decision by the referee, as Stieglitz was clearly in very bad shape, and against a puncher like Abraham, it could have been a disastrous result. Luckily, the fight ended with a staggering soon to be ex-champion just managing to avoid the coup de grace.
Though there seemed little doubt as to who the winner was, Abraham still had to settle for a split decision victory, 112-113, 115-110, and 114-111.
But ultimately the questionable scores didn’t matter.
What did matter was that Arthur Abraham, against all odds, it seemed, was “King” once again.