Like cinema, boxing is no stranger to trilogies. From the black-and-white reels of Zale-Graziano to the classics of Ali-Frazier and the sheer brutality of Ward-Gatti, some of the sweet science's most compelling fights and most enduring rivalries have emerged from three-bout series.
Trilogies create neat storylines in boxing. There's revenge, redemption, bad blood and—owing to its odd-numbered format—evidence for debate as to who's the better boxer. It's all there, on the record.
However, in some select cases, two fighters will add a fourth chapter to a stirring rivalry.
Fight fans will be treated to just such an occasion Saturday, when boxer Arthur Abraham (42-4, 28 KOs) defends his WBO super middleweight title against fellow German Robert Stieglitz (47-4-1, 27 KOs) at Gerry Weber Stadion in Halle, Germany.
Both boxers may be advanced in age, but they are still high-caliber fighters.
Abraham is ahead 2-1 in the series and has the coveted WBO belt to his name. Stieglitz should be desperate to even the tally in this saga and recapture the belt he's held twice before in his long career.
Here's the viewing info for the conclusion to this epic tetralogy nearly three years in the making.
Abraham vs. Stieglitz Viewing Info
Date: Saturday, July 18
Time: Fight card coverage begins at 7 p.m. BST
Location: Gerry Weber Stadion in Halle (Westf.), Germany
TV: Sky Sports 1 (UK), SAT.1 (Germany)
Live Stream: SkySports.com (region restricted)
The WBO super middleweight title is integral to the story of Abraham-Stieglitz. When these two first met in the ring in August 2012, Stieglitz was the titleholder, making his seventh title defense. Abraham won via unanimous decision after 12 rounds of close action.
Six months later, Stieglitz was back for his hardware and took it convincingly, earning a fourth-round TKO over Abraham. It was Abraham's first loss since a May 2011 fight against the excellent Andre Ward, and only the fourth of his career. The second chapter of this tetralogy also represents the last time Abraham lost a bout.
The Armenian-born fighter went off in search of the WBO Inter-Continental super middleweight title, secured that and then retook the WBO World belt in a 12-round, split-decision win over Stieglitz, their closest fight yet.
|Abraham-Stieglitz, March 2014: Judges Scorecards|
|Judge||Score (12 rounds)||In Favor of|
Abraham got a bit of revenge on Stieglitz in that last bout, knocking the Russian-born fighter down in the 12th round, a fact he brought up when discussing the prospect of again facing Stieglitz, per ESPN.com's Dan Rafael:
Robert is [the] mandatory challenger, so of course he deserves his shot. I've enjoyed our rivalry, but like all good things, this must come to an end. The Gerry Weber Stadium will provide the perfect venue for me to finish our feud. I had Robert down in the 12th round of our last encounter, but this time, he will hit the canvas a lot sooner.
That's a bold claim for a 35-year-old pugilist whose finishing power seems to have diminished in recent years. The last time King Arthur forced a stoppage was in the eighth round of a match against Mehdi Bouadla in December 2012, the fight preceding his lone loss to Stieglitz.
In any case, Stieglitz isn't exactly known for having a weak chin. He's also nearly a year younger than Abraham, but with a bit more pro mileage. It could very well be that this fight starts out cagey before turning into a war in the later rounds.
Stieglitz won't have much, if any time left to challenge in the WBO ranks should he lose this bout to Abraham. It would also serve as a decisive win for the titleholder, who claims he wants to "look for a unification," per Sauerland Promotions at Boxing247.com.
Stieglitz needs to at least make things close after settling for a draw against Felix Sturm in his last bout. He can't afford to lose much momentum at this later stage in his career.
While this bout would seem incredibly likely to serve as a conclusion to this long-running conflict, Bad Left Hook's Scott Christ noted a fifth fight isn't necessarily out of the question: "The fourth meeting between Abraham and Stieglitz should be the last, but we'll see, since the super middleweight division is weird and not exactly crawling with contenders who are dying to fight Abraham in Germany."
While it is true that Abraham rarely fights away from his home turf of Germany, a fifth fight would probably only happen if Stieglitz pulls off the minor upset and rips the title away from Abraham. Fans might clamor for a fifth bout to break a tied series, while Abraham would no doubt be looking to get right back on top as the WBO champ.
Stieglitz only has to look back to his previous bout against Abraham for inspiration. A fourth-round TKO win over a titleholder is a fine achievement in any weight class at any time, and their split-decision contest shows that there is little gap between these two, even though Stieglitz has had much more time away from the ring than Abraham in the last couple of years.
Rusty or rejuvenated, look for Stieglitz to force this one to the cards against Abraham.