Q&A: Arthur Abraham
On Saturday Arthur Abraham will face Paul Smith in a rematch of their closer-than-expected first tussle last September.
The second go-around takes place in Abraham’s adopted hometown of Berlin at the 02 World Arena, in what will be the Armenian-born fighter’s 20th world-title fight.
To his credit, Abraham (41-4, 28 knockouts) admits the first meeting was closer than the one scorecard of 119-109 suggested.
“I am no judge but looking back I think a score of 119-109 was definitely too wide,” Abraham told RingTV.com in early February through Thomas Schlabe of Sauerland Event. “In my opinion I won at least eight rounds to four.
The ultra-professional Abraham left home comforts behind to head to Kienbaum (one hour southeast of Berlin) where he has worked diligently under the auspicious eye of feted trainer Ulli Wegner.
Not one to look past an opponent, Abraham has said that if he is victorious he would like to face fellow German-based fighters Felix Sturm and Robert Stieglitz. The latter he has already fought three times, but has never faced the former.
Sturm recently left the middleweight division behind to fight at 168 pounds.
“Believe me when I say that if I beat Smith both of those fights are going to happen this year!” said an excited Abraham.
As well as Abraham-Smith II, the undercard will feature another Englishman, the return of heavyweight David Price, who faces Brazilian Irineu Beato Costa Junior. Also scheduled to appear is rising middleweight Stefan Haertel. The card will be shown on SAT1 in Germany while Sky Sports is carrying the promotion in the U.K.
Anson Wainwright – What are your thoughts on your upcoming rematch with Paul Smith?
Arthur Abraham – I said to Paul Smith at the post press conference of our first fight that I am a man of honor and if he wants a rematch I will grant him his wish. I thought that I rightfully won the our first meeting by at least eight rounds to four but I still was not that satisfied by my performance as I can do better. On Feb. 21 it is time for knockout victory!
AW – The first fight took place last September, you won a wide decision. Looking back, what would you say of that fight?
AA – I controlled the pace for the first six, seven rounds, beat Smith to the punch and won nearly every round until then. Afterward, I was just looking for an early ending instead of setting it up by continuing my early work.
AW – Having shared a ring with Smith for 12 rounds, what would you say of his ability?
AA – He came to win and has a strong will as well as a good punching technique. I knew of those assets ahead of our fight but thought he did as good as he can where I can do better than I did back in September. Can he repeat his performance? We will have to see come Feb. 21.
AW – Was Smith better than you thought he’d be?
AA – He showed exactly what I thought he was able to.
AW – Tell us about your training camp – where have you trained and also how long is camp for?
AA – My trainer (Ulli Wegner) planned the whole preparation at our home gym in Berlin but he thinks that it’s currently too much distraction around me. We left on [Feb. 2] for having a training camp in Kienbaum. There I will stay until early fight week.
AW – You’ll turn 35 years old the day after the Smith fight – do you still feel you are in your prime? How much longer can you continue at the highest level?
AA – I think that I can continue fighting at world level for at least two-three years before it’s time to retire. I currently enjoy my time at the top and there is no reason to think about retirement.
AW – You’re a two-weight world champion, and have fought many of the top 160- and 168-pound fighters in the world. What goals do you still have in boxing?
AA – Obviously, avenging my losses to Andre Ward and Carl Froch. But there are also domestic clashes with Robert Stieglitz and Felix Sturm I am looking forward to.
AW – When you look at the Top 10 as rated by THE RING magazine what are your thoughts on each guy.
C – Andre Ward – He beat the best to be named the best at 168, but he has to fight again [soon] or he will be forgotten.
1 – Carl Froch – Physically the strongest guy I faced. I heard he wants to have a farewell in the U.S., though I would not mind a rematch.
2 – Arthur Abraham
3 – George Groves – Made a big mistake in his rematch with Froch, but bounced back afterward. I see him winning a world title in the next 12 months.
4 – James DeGale – Also a very talented fighter, still doesn’t seem like a big ticket-seller in the U.K.
5 – Robert Stieglitz – Comparable to Smith but with limited technique but a stronger physique. Maybe we have a fourth fight this year.
6 – Anthony Dirrell – Not as polished as his brother Andre but more athletic than him.
7 – Gilberto Ramirez – Heard good things from him but haven’t seen him fight yet.
8 – Andre Dirrell – Another fight I would like to rematch to avenge my loss to him. Still I don’t know if he would want to.
9 – Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. – Another Stieglitz-type of fighter.
10 – Felix Sturm – My dream matchup. A fight with him would be a massive ticket-seller in Germany.
AW – Tell us about your life away from boxing?
AA – I like to watch other sports but I also try to play them like football and basketball.
AW – Lastly, do you have a message for Smith ahead of the rematch?
AA – Be careful what you wish for. Feb. 21 will be “Judgment Day”!
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright