Earlier this year, Robert Stieglitz galvanized himself for the rematch with Arthur Abraham who seven months prior had taken his WBO super middleweight title with a close decision that some believed Stieglitz deserved to win.
“The belt was only lent for one fight,” said Stieglitz, who won it back in emphatic style, busting up Abraham and closing the slugger’s eye before the stoppage came when Abraham failed to come out for the fourth round.
Stieglitz, who recently turned 32, was born in Russia but has fought his entire career out of Germany and considers himself German. He currently lives in Magdeburg.
The two-time 168-pound beltholder makes the first defense in his second WBO title reign on Saturday when he takes on the WBO’s No. 10-rated Yuzo Kiyota at Energie Verbund-Arena in Dresden, Germany.
Stieglitz (44-3, 25 knockouts) says of his Japanese foe: “He seems to be a physically strong fighter, maybe with a good punch,” adding “I need to build up pressure in the ring and so I can bring through my technical skills.”
Here’s what Stieglitz had to say on a variety of subjects when he kindly took time out of his schedule during fight week to speak with RingTV.com.
Anson Wainwright: In your last fight you beat Arthur Abraham. Could you tell us about that fight?
Robert Stieglitz: It was a fight with a plan, a strategy of pressure. We were very superior. Abraham’s closed eye was one result of this and at least the fight was over after the third round. I may have broken Abraham in the last two rounds. That may affect his boxing future.
AW: How happy were you being able gain a measure of revenge by beating Abraham? Did it make up for the first fight? Do you feel it was a career best win?
RS: First, my best fight was the title win against Karoly Balzsay in 2009. In the first fight against Arthur I wasn’t in the best shape, I had problems in my hand and several other things in my surroundings that weren’t as good as they could have been. I said the belt was only lent for one fight and as promised I got it back. So, we were completely satisfied.
AW: You meet WBO ranked No. 10 Yuzo Kiyota this Saturday. What do you think of him and what can we expect from you in this fight?
RS: He seems to be a physically strong fighter, maybe with a good punch. This Japanese guy is going straight forward and will behave in the ring like a kamikaze. I need to build up pressure in the ring and so I can bring through my technical skills.
AW: Without overlooking Kiyota, what are you looking at for the fall, a third fight with Abraham for example?
RS: It’s like usual, first I need to solve this task and… for me it doesn’t matter who’s next. As a champion I need to fight everybody, everywhere.
AW: Let’s talk a little about yourself. You now live in Germany but you’re originally from Russia, in a town called Yeysk in the south west of Russia. What was it like for you growing up there?
RS: I was a German in Russia, born there but always a German with a German passport. This causes all kinds problems, in school, in my sport career… and after finishing school there was only one way to goÔÇªback to Germany. Now, Magdeburg is my home and Germany my home country.
AW: When did you realise that boxing was what you wanted to do? Could you tell us about the path you took?
RS: This was result of my first sport, karate. I was good at that. I tried as a challenge to box and lost a first “try out” fight. So, I was depressed and provoked. I finished karate and worked hard to get better in boxing. The result you can see now. In the gym I’m a hard, hard worker and out of this the success follows.
AW – What was your amateur career like? Did you win any titles/tournaments, fight any big names? What was your record? Also how did leaving the amateurs for the pros come about and you moving to Germany.
RS: In 2000 I was Russian (amateur) champion. I had 90 amateur fights – 80 wins. And with my uncle, I travelled to Germany and got an offer from SES (Sport Events Steinforth) in 2001 and went pro.
AW: You have overcome two stoppage defeats that threatened to prevent you from reaching your goal of becoming a world champion when you lost to Alejandro Berrio (having beaten him the year before) and then Librado Andrade. Could you tell us about those fights and how you were able to bounce back better than ever?
RS: These two defeats were caused by my (out-of-the-ring) problems and (technical) faults. Before the Andrade fight I was ill with fever, and with Berrio, he showed me my problems at that time with my defence. I’m always a fighter with a high work rate, a lot of pressure and sometimes this causes problems with my defense, logically.
AW: When you look at the super middleweight division, what are your thoughts?
RS: It’s a hard, tough, strong and very attractive division with a huge potential of good fighters.
AW: The division is strong, but what goals do you still have in boxing?
RS: As everybody at the top in boxing, being the champ of all, unify the belts!
AW: If I can take you to the top 10 we have at THE RING magazine, could you share your thoughts on each guy:
C – Andre Ward – Fast, sometimes not fair, a bit dirty in boxing.
1 – Carl Froch – Long arms, his height is one plus, technically good.
2 – Mikkel Kessler – (His career) may be over. I prepared three times for a fight against him, all cancelled by health problems.
3 – Lucian Bute – Now at light heavyweight.
4 – Robert Stieglitz – That’s me, the champion.
5 – Arthur Abraham – Nobody knows what’s now in his head! He needs to qualify himself first (before he receives) another title shot, but he’s a good puncher.
6 – George Groves – Young; needs more experience.
7 – Thomas Oosthuizen – Had a lucky draw.
8 – Sakio Bika – Not the best fighter at the moment; let’s wait.
9 – Edwin Rodriguez – I don’t know him.
10 – James DeGale – There was a fight planned against me, but also, let’s wait!
AW: Could you tell us a little about yourself as a person and what you enjoy doing away from boxing?
RS: Outside the ring I’m a man who needs privacy. I love the time with my son, Oskar, I like to go fishing and to be with friends in my garden. Sports like wake boarding, skiing and car racing are the opposite because they are aggressive. Also, I like travelling around the world, to unknown countries and meeting the people there.
AW: Lastly do you have a message for the super middleweight division?
RS: Boxing is beautiful! (Laughs) boxing and all sports is an attitude towards life and gives a lot back for mine and everybody’s lives.