With his long career on the line, Arthur Abraham (39-4, 28 KOs) captured the WBO super middleweight championship for the third time by defeating defending champion Robert Stieglitz (46-4, 28 KOs) by split decision at the GETEC Arena in Magdeburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany earlier today.
The fighters had split their first two encounters. Abraham, also a former middleweight titleholder, won a close decision over Stieglitz in August 2012 to claim a super middleweight belt. But in the rematch last year, Stieglitz overwhelmed Abraham with pressure en route to a fourth-round knockout victory to regain the 168-pound title.
It was apparent in the opening stanza, that Stieglitz, 32, defending his title for the third time, was convinced his pressure would be enough to defeat Abraham once again.
His thinking wasn’t foreign. Abraham, 34, looked sluggish in his last two fights. Many figured the old champion was washed up, but pride can be a wonderful motivator.
Abraham started the opening frame quickly, but Stieglitz had the advantage. He pushed Abraham back and fired punches. Abraham, with his hands high as usual, tried to counter the rushing Stieglitz. He ate a right hand, but also connected with a hook.
Abraham stung Stieglitz with a good jab in round two. A combination also landed. Stieglitz landed a right near the end of the round.
In round three, Stieglitz was warned for punching on the break. Abraham did a good job of tying his opponent up, but didn’t land much in return. Abraham continued to box more than slug in round four. His work off his back foot was impressive. He was catching Stieglitz coming in. Stieglitz snapped his head back with a long jab.
Stieglitz clocked Abraham with two strong right hands in round five. Abraham railed at the end of the heat, but his flurry wasn’t enough to take the round. Stieglitz stunned Abraham with a right hook in the next stanza. Abraham recovered quickly, but wasn’t countering back like he was earlier in the contest. He opened up in the last minute of the round - catching Stieglitz with a couple of roundhouse shots.
Stieglitz, as he had done in the two pervious rounds, started fast in round seven. Abraham connected with two left hands. He banged Stieglitz with a hard combination.
Abraham tried to build of the momentum he had acquired in round seven. He calmly loaded up on his punches. The referee took a point from Abraham for hitting behind the head. Even with the point deduction, Abraham landed the more effective shots.
In round eight, Abraham found the target with a lead right. Stieglitz barreled inside but didn’t land anything of note. The referee took a point away from Stieglitz for excessive holding. Abraham wobbled Stieglitz in the next round with a big right hand.
Abraham looked confident entering round 10. Stieglitz strafed him with a clubbing right. Abraham, showing more mobility than usual, bounced off the ropes throwing punches.
With two rounds to go, the fight was close. Stieglitz landed a hard right, but Abraham countered back. Stieglitz caught Abraham with a right that knocked him to the ropes. Abraham railed in the last minute to steal the stanza.
In the last round, Abraham bounced off the ropes and landed a left. Stieglitz was busier. He looked like he had more left in the tank. Abraham was being bottled up and not doing much. He needed space and with a minute to go in the heat, he found it. A big left uppercut jolted Stieglitz to his heels. After a pause, Stieglitz went down to a knee. He got up, but staggered sideways. Abraham landed another heavy shot that hurt Stieglitz at the bell.
The scores were 113-112 for Stieglitz, 115-110 and 114-111 for Abraham