This Saturday, Arthur Abraham (40-4, 28 KOs) looks to make the second defense of his WBO super middleweight title on German home turf and, without even knowing the name of his opponent, it would be safe to say that it’s not likely to be anyone even remotely worthy of the super middleweight main stage.
History shows that Abraham, who is officially a three-time world champ in two-divisions, will probably not be aiming to test himself against any killers at this point. As a matter of fact, of Abraham’s eighteen world title bouts, only four have come against opposition that could be classified as true, elite-level fighters. It could be argued that, with the exception of his 2009 KO win over Jermain Taylor (who was borderline contender material at that point), Abraham has lost every time he has tried to step up in class.
So, the late-career strategy appears to involve a return to what made him rich and famous in his prime– token defenses against substandard opposition in front of an adoring crowd.
Abraham’s first defense of the WBO belt surely fit into that mold as he waltzed past third-tier Serbian fighter, Nikola Sjekloca.
Next up for Abraham is UK club fighter Paul Smith (35-3, 20 KOs) this Saturday and, at least on paper, it looks as though Abraham will have another token notch on his championship belt.
Except, somebody apparently forgot to tell Smith that he’s supposed to be the patsy fall guy.
“This is my first and last chance to become world champion,” Smith said during a recent interview. “This is the fight I have been dreaming of…I’m not going to let this opportunity pass me by. This is my time…I’m going to grab this opportunity and the title with both hands.”
By all means, Smith should lose. His record shows nothing but losses and tough times with anyone above the regional level. And in terms of style, there’s simply not much there. Smith is as basic as basic gets.
But the fact that the book on beating Abraham has been written and circulated is a plus for Smith. Another check mark in the Smith column is that pre-fight publicity has been marked by Abraham retirement talk and by the damning analysis of Abraham’s own trainer, 72-year-old Ulli Wegner, that, at 34, Abraham still “needs to live up to his potential.”
In other words, Arthur Abraham is ripe for the taking. The question remains, however, whether Smith is the right man to do that taking.