By Jake Donovan
Arthur Abraham is well aware that his upcoming opponent, Tim-Robin Lihaug looks to him as one of his boxing idols and an honor to share ring space on July 16 at Max-Schmelling Halle in Berlin, Germany.
The former two-division champ is wise enough to know that the 23-year old prospect looks to him as a way to advance his own career, whereas a second consecutive loss could very well mark the last days at the contender level for Abraham.
Therefore, what boxing fans – and Lihaug – should expect next weekend in Berlin is the Arthur Abraham of old rather than an old Arthur Abraham.
“Tim-Robin Lihaug is a young, emerging talent. He is someone who still has a lot to prove and perhaps has a great future ahead of him, but on July 16, he will learn what it means to fight at the very highest level,” Abraham (44-5, 29KOs) vows. “When the bell rings, he should expect no sympathy from me. This is a fight I must win, and win in style.”
The sense of urgency is aided by his most recent performance, landing on the wrong end of a virtual shutout at the hands of Gilberto Ramirez this past April in Las Vegas. The unbeaten Ramirez handled Abraham en route to becoming the first ever boxer from Mexico to win a super middleweight title.
More so than not wanting to suffer another defeat, Abraham wants to avoid becoming a steppingstone for yet another opponent. Rather, the 36-year old Armenia-born, Berlin-bred boxer plans to use this performance as a launching pad for one more title run.
Of course, that means not being set in your own ways, not the easiest task for a former three-time champion who is wrapping up his 13th year in the pro ranks.
If nothing else, though, Abraham’s career – particularly throughout the entirety of this decade – has been about reinventing the wheel.
He was written off after being treated as a whipping boy in suffering three losses in his disastrous turn in the Showtime Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament following a lengthy run as a middleweight titlist. Instead, he came back to enjoy two title reigns at super middleweight, including his avenging a stoppage loss to Robert Stieglitz twice over, going 3-1 overall in their four fight series.
Abraham did so by making the necessary adjustments in the gym, but with the advice always coming from the main constant in his career.
“Mr. (Ulli) Wegner has shown great belief in me and I want repay his support by proving to him that I can become World Champion again,” Abraham notes of his longtime trainer. “He is not only a great coach but also a great person, and he is right when he says, ‘We win together and we lose together.’
“Things did not go to plan in Las Vegas, but we have learnt from this, and I will come back stronger and more determined than ever.”
The first step in likely his final lap at the top level comes in the familiar surroundings of Berlin, the historic European treasure he has called home since he was a teenager. He also boasts a 10-0 record in the city, including four wins in as many appearances at Max-Schmelling Halle. His last bout at the venue was the final defense of his middleweight title, scoring a 10th round knockout of Mahir Oral in June ’09.
“I have never lost a fight in Berlin and I intend to keep it that way,” Abraham points out. “Here I have the full support of the crowd, and I’m sure they will play their part in another great victory for me.”