This Saturday in Magdeburg, Germany, WBO super middleweight champion Robert Stieglitz defends his belt against Arthur Abraham. These two have already fought twice in the past two years, swapping the WBO belt back and forth.
This is a great all-German rivalry with international implications. Stieglitz is the top-rated super middleweight in the world who still hasn't fought Andre Ward.
Meanwhile, Abraham is a two-division world champion who is looking to make another big run.
|Per Boxrec||Robert Stieglitz||Arthur Abraham|
|Record||46-3, 26 KOs||38-4, 28 KOs|
|Weight||168 pounds||168 pounds|
|Hometown||Magdeburg, Germany||Berlin, Germany|
These are two compact, powerfully built super middleweights. Stieglitz fights in more of a crouch, so the two-inch height difference is negligible in the ring.
Although he has more fights and rounds, Abraham has been in more taxing battles. He has faced more world-class opponents and has taken more damage in his career.
Stieglitz is originally from Russia, while Abraham is from Armenia. But they've both built loyal followings in their adopted nation of Germany.
Robert Stieglitz and Arthur Abraham have fought each other twice in the past two years, swapping the WBO super middleweight belt back and forth. Their rubber match will be a major fight in Germany.
Abraham has been the far bigger star in his career. He was a middleweight world champion and an early favorite to win the Showtime Super Six Super Middleweight tournament, though he ultimately fell to both Andre Ward and Carl Froch.
Abraham won a decisive, though competitive, unanimous decision when these two met for the first time in 2012. But in the 2013 rematch, Stieglitz jumped all over Abraham at the opening bell and battered him in Round 3, closing Abraham's eye. Stieglitz won via Round 4 TKO when Abraham's corner stopped the fight.
Since that rematch, Stieglitz has defended the WBO strap twice against Yuzo Kiyota and Isaac Ekpo—two of the least qualified and most obscure world title challengers of recent years.
The WBO version of the 168-pound crown is by far the least prestigious of the four major alphabet-soup organizations at the present moment. But this third fight between Stieglitz and Abraham is at least a title fight that is worthy of notice.
Robert Stieglitz is a strong pressure fighter with very good offense. When he started aggressively against Arthur Abraham in their rematch last March, he was able to push the tough veteran back onto his heels and close his left eye after three hard-fought rounds.
He is a bull of a fighter, with very good conditioning. In his unanimous-decision loss to Abraham in November 2012, he appeared to be the fresher fighter in the later rounds.
Arthur Abraham is physically strong and punches with authority. He is also durable, as he proved in 2006 against Edison Miranda, when he won a unanimous decision while fighting most of the way with a badly broken jaw.
He is a two-division world champion who has been in the ring with the best super middleweights in the world. He is an experienced world-class fighter who has been swimming in the deep waters for years.
Robert Stieglitz is a hittable fighter. He comes forward in predictable lines and uses minimal head movement.
He has a tendency to drop his hands slightly just before pumping his jab. This provides his opponents a tell, and it makes it easier for them to counter over the top with straight rights.
When he attacks, he tends to square up and make himself a bigger target.
Arthur Abraham has been through some major ring wars and has taken substantial damage. As durable as he is, he is also an old 34.
Even at his best, he had a bad habit of simply covering up and absorbing blows while waiting for the opportunity to deliver his own heavy artillery. In his last fight with Stieglitz, he was driven into the ropes early in the first round and had his eye punched shut before he could find the opportunity to rally back.
In their last fight, Robert Stieglitz jumped on Arthur Abraham early and never gave him a chance to get in the fight. He needs to come out with the same strategy this time.
But he shouldn't anticipate another early stoppage, because Abraham is not an easy guy to put away. Instead, Stieglitz should concentrate on pushing the pace every round and consistently getting off first with his own offense.
In their first fight, Abraham had good success drifting backward and getting Stieglitz to chase him into little traps. Stieglitz needs to be wary of that this time and make sure he's actively cutting off the ring and not simply pursuing.
These two are fairly similar fighters. They are both big, strong guys who like to impose their will on an opponent.
The key for Stieglitz will be to seize the initiative and get off more quickly than his opponent.
The last time they fought, Arthur Abraham started slow and was never able to rally against Robert Stieglitz's initial blitz. Abraham didn't even look properly warmed up when he came out to fight. When Stieglitz jumped on him in the first round, he merely covered up and allowed himself to be driven into the ropes.
Throughout his career, he has had a habit of starting slowly and relying on his power to get him out of the hole. Against Jermain Taylor in 2009, he was far behind on the cards when he knocked Taylor out in the final round.
At this point in his career, he can't afford to let a fighter as strong as Stieglitz to seize all the initiative. When Stieglitz comes forward, Abraham needs to meet him with a stiff jab.
He should look to fade back slightly behind his jab and then catch the pursuing Stieglitz with a big right hand. He needs to be ready to make a quick shift from defense to offense instead of riding out entire chunks of rounds behind his high guard.
At their best, Arthur Abraham was the better fighter than Robert Stieglitz. He was the stronger man with the more powerful punches.
But Abraham is not that fighter anymore. Stieglitz has hardly blown me away in his last two performances against marginal contenders, but in his rematch with Abraham last year, he came out smoking and kicked up the pressure when Abraham was in trouble.
Even in the first fight, which Abraham clearly won, Stieglitz appeared to have the deeper gas tank in the later rounds. A fight between a couple of bulls like Stieglitz and Abraham is likely to be a battle of attrition, so the fighter who has more left late is going to be in the best position to win.
Abraham will make a strong showing this time out and will land some significant punches in the middle rounds. But Stieglitz will separate himself late and win a close decision.
I'm picking Stieglitz, 115-113. Serious fans would enjoy seeing him in a unification bout with either Carl Froch or Andre Ward, but I'm not sure how much interest either fight would garner outside of Germany.