Arthur Abraham-Paul Smith II to be discussed for Feb. 21
Although super middleweight Paul Smith was initially denied a petition request for a rematch with Arthur Abraham by WBO, a deal has been reached for a Feb. 21 return bout at the O2 World in Berlin, Germany, the fighters’ handlers announced on Monday.
THE RING No. 2-ranked 168-pounder, Abraham (41-4, 28 knockouts) secured his fifth consecutive win over Smith (35-4, 20 KOs) by scores of 117-111 on the cards of Waleska Roldan and Zolton Enyedi and by 119-109 on that of Fernando Laguna.
But promoter Sauerland Event, which handles Abraham, and Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport, which has Smith, will hold a press conference on Thursday in Liverpool, England, to officially announce Abraham-Smith II, whose initial bout took place on Sept. 27 in Germany.
Based primarily on the wide margin indicated by Laguna’s card, Smith’s protest was submitted by Hearn, who requested that the WBO review video of the bout and order an immediate rematch.
In denying the request, however, the WBO’s championship committee recommended its WBO classifications committee “favorably consider ranking Mr. Paul Smith within the top five contenders in its ratings. [See the WBO’s full explanation below.]
At the time of the organization’s decision, WBO President Paco Valcarcel already had been informed by Sauerland Event that negotiations were ongoing with Hearn for a voluntary defense against Smith.
Abraham, 34, was coming off a unanimous decision over Nikola Sjekloca in May that followed his split decision over RING No. 5-rated super middleweight rival Robert Stieglitz on March 1, the latter earning the belt from the man who dethroned him by fourth-round TKO in March 2013.
Smith, 32, had reeled off four straight wins, three of them by stoppage, since being stopped by George Groves in the second round in November 2011. Smith was coming off a second-round knockout over David Sarabia in May.
NOTE: The WBO’s decision on Abraham-Smith I:
The championship committee “conducted an independent round-by-round evaluation of the fight by combining the results of the three official judges with those of a five-member, highly qualified and internationally recognized, confidential judging panel, finding that the scores ranged between 116-112 and 115-113, all for Abraham in what was an undoubtedly close and competitive match,” read the WBO’s ruling in part.
“[The committee] understands that post-fight unrest was due to the margin of all of the official judges scores and not the actual result of the bout – with Fernando Laguna’s 119-109 (11-1 in rounds) score being particularly egregious and unacceptable in the eyes of this committee.”
“We’ve tried to be clear all along that the fact that we didn’t order an immediate rematch making Paul Smith the mandatory to Abraham does not exclude the fact that they can negotiate a voluntary fight,” said Jose Izquierdo, general secretary of the WBO.
“In fact, that should happen. So that’s on the table and it’s up to them to come to an accord and to make it happen. I think that we were fairly straightforward with our ruling. We reviewed the fight as we normally do when we have a protest of this kind.”