Newly crowned WBO super middleweight champion, Robert Stieglitz (44-3, 25 KO) may be cherry-picking with his choice of opponent for his next bout, but there's always the possibility that he could be biting into some bad fruit.
Stieglitz will defend his crown against Japanese KO artist Yuzo Kiyota (23-3-1, 21 KO) Saturday night in the champion's home country of Germany. Stieglitz is coming off a dominant performance over tough Arthur Abraham in March. He stopped Abraham in the fourth round to earn the WBO title.
Stieglitz now faces Kiyota, who is the 63rd ranked super middleweight in the world by Boxrec.com, but is somehow slated 10th by the WBO. The latter is the only governing body that ranks Kiyota in the top 10, so make of that what you will.
On paper, it looks as though Stieglitz should have an easy time with Kiyota, but this is boxing and strange things happen on the way to expected, easy victories. Here's how you can watch the fight, followed by a closer look at the matchup:
Saturday, July 13 at 4:20 p.m. EDT
Energie Verbund Arena in Dresden, Sachsen, Germany
Sat. 1 in Germany
The Book on Stieglitz
Is He Taking it Too Easy?
The 32-year-old champion has the opportunity to cash in with bigger fights later this year or possibly early in 2014. Andre Ward is considered the top dog in the 168-pound weight class, but IBF and WBA champion Carl Froch, WBC champion Sakio Bika, George Groves and Thomas Oosthuizen are all possibilities as well.
With so many higher-profile opponents within Stieglitz's sights, there is always the danger of overlooking a seemingly less dangerous foe.
Oosthuizen may have done just that in his last fight. He was out-boxed by Brandon Gonzales, but the latter was shafted when the fight was called a draw. Stieglitz has to be careful not to allow himself to be caught off guard against Kiyota.
In the Ring
Stieglitz's style usually creates exciting fights. He comes straight forward and doesn't employ a ton of head movement—especially when he believes he has the upper hand. Take a look at his last bout with Abraham here:
Though he doesn't boast an overly impressive KO percentage (53.19), his pressure and conditioning can wear an opponent down.
Against a less-experienced fighter like Kiyota, that may be all he needs.
The Book on Kiyota
Can He Shock the World? Well, At Least Central Europe.
You may be wondering why Kiyota showed up for the press conference wearing a surgical mask. Kiyota said this during the pre-fight press conference, per Fight News:
"It’s common for Japanese athletes to protect themselves from infection. That’s why I wear the mask."
He'll be hoping his performance is infectious Saturday night. The 29-year-old Japanese fighter has 21 KOs, but considering most of his opposition have been rudimentary, his knockout exploits aren't quite as impressive.
Three of his last six fights have come against fighters who don't even have winning records. The lone time he faced a fighter with a respectable mark in that time span occurred in October 2010. Kiyota was stopped in the first round by Jameson Bostic in that fight.
It could be a long—or short—night for Kiyota.
In the Ring
It was difficult finding video of Kiyota's fights. That's the problem when a fighter has such a nondescript list of opposition. Kiyota can punch, but can he land against a top-notch, 168-pound fighter who will clearly represent the best opposition he's faced?
Stieglitz will lay waste to Kiyota by the third round. Kiyota may have been germ conscience at the press conference, but a mask won't protect him from Stieglitz's fists Saturday night.
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