Arthur Abraham vs Robert Stieglitz WBO Super Middleweight World Title Fight Preview

O2 WORLD ARENA, BERLIN – Robert Stieglitz (42-2) defends his WBO belt this weekend against Arthur Abraham (34-3) in what is an intriguing contest, if one that will not gain much publicity in the UK or probably the US for that matter.

Abraham is heavily favoured by the layers and is chalked up at a best price of 4/11 (Ladbrokes, Skybet). Stieglitz is widely available at 11/4 (Totesport, Betfred) and the draw is 30/1 (Paddy Power, Bwin).

On paper, it’s not hard to see why Abraham is considered a jolly, with some good wins on his record and his losses coming against arguably the two best fighters in the division and the other against the trickiest. Abraham ruled the roost at middleweight, defending the IBF world title 10 times and establishing a reputation as an extremely tough KO artist, before stepping up to super middleweight to compete in the Super Six. Abraham’s tournament debut could hardly have been more impressive as he looked to be coasting towards a comfortable points decision against Jermain Taylor, before delivering a concussive knock out in the final round. Alas that was as good as it got for King Arthur in the tournament: fouling Dirrell in the eleventh round of a fight that he looked like losing on points in any event; being shut out by Froch (in the eyes of all bar one judge); and then being comprehensively decisioned by Ward. The fights against Froch and Ward were both world titles, so Abraham will be hoping that it’s third time lucky at this weight.

Stieglitz has held the WBO title for the past 3 years; however, his standard of opposition has been European rather than World level. The only fighter that Stieglitz has faced that can be described as even “B” level is Librado Andrade, who had his number fairly comfortably before stopping him in the eighth round back in 2008. Stieglitz has had fights lined up this year against Mikkel Kessler and then George Groves. Both of these fighters withdrew due to injury, but it would appear that either Stieglitz is confident that he has improved significantly or is ready to relinquish his title for a decent payday.

If Stieglitz was on offer at any bigger than 4/1, then I may consider getting involved; however, my feeling is that this is a not-quite world-class super middleweight, in Abraham, against a decent European class one, who I consider “C” standard at world level, in Stieglitz.

The method of victory market is of rather more interest from the betting perspective. Abraham is a stand out 6/5 with Ladbrokes to win by way of decision, with William Hill offering 5/2 on him getting the job done inside the distance. With others offering as low as 6/4 on this outcome, this is a price which I fancy holds a little value. Sadly nowhere near as much as the 9/2 on offer last week. I think that the bookies are placing rather too much emphasis on Abraham’s failure to stop Wilczewski in his last fight. Wilczewski will be familiar to British fans after putting James DeGale on silly street midway through their closely contested European title fight, which DeGale eventually edged on points. Whilst clearly this result bears consideration, I’d be reluctant to base the price on this market solely on this, which is what the bookies appear to have done.

Abraham may well have lost some confidence during the Super Six, but he never took the kind of beating which can destroy a fighter. In addition, whilst his power does not appear as intimidating having stepped up in weight, it still can’t be discounted entirely. He has the aforementioned KO victory against Taylor and had Dirrell down in the tenth round of their fight, albeit this was called a slip by the referee, incorrectly in my opinion. Failure to land any significant blows on Froch or Ward can be put down to their superior boxing skills, so I believe that the demise of Abraham’s punching power may have been somewhat overstated. When you add to the mix that Stieglitz has twice been stopped and, in the case of Andrade, by a fairly one dimensional pressure fighter, then the 5/2 starts to look rather large.

The biggest criticism of Abraham is that he walks forward in straight lines with as high a guard as you’ll ever see, which makes him very predictable. This style was easily countered for 12 rounds by Froch/Ward and for 9 rounds by Dirrell. Stieglitz has shown nothing to date to show that he is anywhere near the class of these fighters and I fancy Abraham to walk him down and stop him. Stieglitz’ KO ratio is only just over 50%, so it’s unlikely that he’ll have the ammunition to keep Abraham off him.

For anyone fancying a flutter on Stieglitz, then I’d certainly advise enhancing the odds by backing him to win by way of decision at 21/5 (Sporting Bet). Abraham has never been stopped, continuing with a broken jaw against Miranda to win by stoppage himself and as already mentioned, Stieglitz isn’t particularly heavy-handed. 18/1 (Sporting Bet) is on offer about Stieglitz winning inside the distance, but I’d be astonished if he were to stop Abraham. In fact, I’d say that there’s as much chance of this bet coming in by way of disqualification as knockout, and I’d want triple figures when betting on the DQ in any given fight!

The second biggest criticism of Abraham is that he’s a notoriously slow starter. This opens up another possible bet of value if you take a relatively small chance by discounting Abraham getting things wrapped up early. Paddy Power go 5/1 about Abraham winning in the latter half of the fight and Ladbrokes 7/1 about a victory between rounds 5 and 8. I think both are worth a flutter, although my preference would be for the slightly bigger odds on the middle rounds.

Unless Abraham is a shadow of his former self, or Steiglitz greatly improved, then I fancy Abraham to get to him and stop him around the sixth or seventh round.

By: Nic Mimmack