Boxing Preview – Arthur Abraham vs Paul Smith Jr

Boxing Preview – Arthur Abraham vs Paul Smith Jr

One of the first big World Championship weekends of 2015 sees two British fighters both competing with the hopes and dreams of bringing a World Championship back to Britain. We have Paul Smith Jr taking on Arthur Abraham for a second time, looking to restore some pride this time round. Martin Murray also has the undoubtedly impossible task of dethroning the Beast from the East, Gennady Golovkin.

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10pm) Arthur Abraham vs Paul Smith Jr

There’s going to be a brawl in Berlin tonight, and it’s going to be for the coveted WBO World super middleweight belt. Paul Smith Jr will be throwing all his chips on the table for a second time tonight against current champion, Arthur Abraham, after narrowly losing to Abraham in September 2014.

The first fight was seen as a large mismatch as Abraham’s resume boasted more high profile names and more spectacular Boxing prowess which towered over Smith’s arsenal of wins over ‘tuneup’ opponents, always losing in the big fights. It wasn’t to be expected at the final bell that Smith would lodge a massive challenge, however he did just that. Smith battled each and every round, however lost via unanimous decision on wide scorecards, which many of the Boxing contingency saw as robbery. Truth be told, only the people in Smith’s camp and his die-hard fans thought Smith won that fight. The scorecards were absurdly wrong, but Abraham got the best of Smith in the majority of the rounds, and outboxed him, period, the scorecards should of been closer than what they were though.

As aforementioned, Paul Smith hasn’t done a whole lot with his career, mainly due to lack of talent. He’s got 35 wins over 39 fights, however only three of those were what may be considered ‘big fights’. He lost all three of them. He stopped against James DeGale in 2010, and again by George Groves in 2011, and more recently the decision loss in his last fight against Abraham in September of last year. The rest of his record is padded with overmatched domestic fights which Smith has won fairly comfortably. Smith was born into a Boxing family. In rather bizarre circumstances, him and his three brothers make up for probably the only quad of brothers who are professional Boxers. The only other example that springs to mind in professional sports are the Burgess brothers in Rugby League. Him and his brothers are trained by Joe Gallagher, who is known to have projected many careers of upstart British professionals. Smith boasts the true grit which is demonstrated by plenty of British fighters.

He isn’t scared to bring the fight and he will actively force the jab to tee off on his power punches. He will force the fight to the inside and get in his opponents face. What he lacks, as mentioned earlier, is just general Boxing talent. His Boxing is all that you need to be able to contest a fight, and his power isn’t spectacular. He lacks a lot of flair, the type of flair you see fighters at the top level present every fight. He’s just not that slick. He will need to do exactly what he did last time, but he needs to execute it this time so that the judges can’t see Abraham getting the best of any exchanges. He needs to force Abraham out of his comfort zone.

Like Smith, Abraham has likely surpassed the peak of his Boxing career, but that being said, he’s still at the top level of the game. He once had an imposing career at middleweight where he held the world IBF strap for 4 years, notching ten defences in that period. His move to super middleweight wasn’t great, losing 3 of his first 4 fights, two of them being World championship fights, being completely dominated for 12 rounds by Carl Froch and Andre Ward. He strung together some wins and earned another shot at a World championship against Robert Stieglitz, which he won in a very close contested bout, however in the rematch, Stieglitz dominated his way to a 4th round stoppage. Then came the rubber match, where he beat Stieglitz by decision again in another closely contested bout. He’s defended the title twice since then against substandard opposition, one of those being his opponent tonight who he was expected to beat by more.

Arthur had established himself as a power puncher at middleweight, and someone who converted most of his wins by way of stoppage. He is a very stop-start puncher in that he will cool down on firing punches for a couple rounds, and then start loading up, hoping to tee off whilst the pressure is on in one round. This has worked for Abraham generally but it carries a lot of risk. His move to super middleweight had only deterred his power punching (which is seen generally as you increase in weight). He hasn’t stopped an opponent for three years now and the test of his Boxing ability has become apparent, an obvious weakness to his game. Abraham needs to fight fire with fire tonight, he needs to put the pressure on Smith who will undoubtedly be trying to get in Abraham’s face. He needs to keep Smith on the back foot, or to keep Smith moving around trying to get inside of him, this will be so that he can counter exchange where appropriate and rock Smith like he’s known for. It’s all about being smart for Abraham tonight.

In the first fight, I had pegged Abraham for an easy decision win which was 4.50, and despite the outcome obviously influencing the odds in this second bout, I’m quite happy to take the odds again. I was impressed by Smith stepping up to the plate in such a boiling pot of a situation last time round, but ultimately the gulf in class and resume prevailed when it mattered most. Abraham is old and doesn’t quite have the finishing prowess he had several years ago, but what he still does have is the experience and pedigree to dictate and control a fight. Against someone who hasn’t had as many top level fights as Smith, nothing suggests to me that Smith will have a lot of success on Abraham’s favourite turf in Germany this evening. I can see Abraham winning by decision tonight.

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