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Paul Smith extremely confident going into Arthur Abraham sequel

18
Feb
Paul Smith (left) takes it to Arthur Abraham during their first title bout. Photo by Bongarts

Paul Smith (left) takes it to Arthur Abraham during their first title bout. Photo by Bongarts

British super middleweight Paul Smith has left no stone unturned in preparation for his rematch with WBO titleholder Arthur Abraham and vows to emerge victorious when the pair meet for a second time this Saturday in Berlin, Germany.

The perpetually honest 32 year old has spent time abroad and worked himself to the bone in preparation for his return fight against THE RING’s No. 2-rated super middleweight.

“We had some quality time at Seamus Macklin’s Gym in Marbella, Spain,” said Smith, who still sounded spritely and energetic following a grueling workout. “It’s a great set-up over there and we did plenty of sparring and running.

“As always, the majority of my training has taken place in Bolton and I’ve had the same sparring as last time with David Brophy, Callum Johnson and my brother, Liam, all mimicking Abraham’s style. Chris Eubank Jr. has also been down, so the work has been top class.”



In September, Smith fought the fight of his life against Abraham but the official scorecards failed to acknowledge his effort. The champion, fighting at home in Germany, was awarded a ridiculously wide unanimous decision and the resulting uproar fuelled a direct rematch.

Smith, now fully confident in his ability to perform at world level, expects only victory in the return.

“I believe I’m better prepared mentally and physically. I’ve completed more sparring whereas last time there was more emphasis on strength and conditioning, because I wanted to do twelve rounds at a good pace,” said the challenger.

“This time I’m prepared for the distance but you get into fighting shape by fighting and that’s what I’ve been doing. We’ve still completed pad work, bag work, running and swimming but there has been real focus on punching, and I also possess the added confidence of having proven myself last time.”

Prior to the first encounter Joe Gallagher, Smith’s trainer, studiously dissected Abraham’s strengths and weaknesses by watching him in previous fights. Now that there are twelve rounds of Abraham vs. Smith available, this reporter asked if that was still the case.

“We’ve still been watching other fights,” said Smith. “Abraham, for me, was at his best against Andre Ward so that’s the one we watch the most. It’s useful to see another fighter breaking him down, or trying to break him down.

“I’ve watched my own fight with Abraham several times and I can see things that I should have done better but, being honest, I leave a lot of that to Joe. I’m not being lazy, I just trust his judgment and I know how to carry out instructions.”

Smith impressed everyone, with the exception of the judges, five months ago but the scoring suggested that he didn’t turn up. Despite the fact that the officials in this rematch will be under one very large microscope, could the Liverpool man be lured into taking chances which are not in his best interest?

Smith said, “It’s a good question because I stuck to a game plan last time, felt I’d done enough, and got zero credit for my performance. I will take some risks because I’ll do whatever I can to get that belt. I plan to leave it all in the ring and I’m not convinced Abraham can do that anymore.

“It’s still vital to have a game plan though and I’ve learned that lesson the hard way in my career. There will be no red mist taking over because I can box better off the back foot than I can by approaching things gung-ho.”

As confident as Smith may be, he is facing a seasoned and respected champion who will be determined to test him to the full in Berlin. Will the German based Armenian start slowly and build tempo, his usual pattern, or will he fly out of the blocks looking to end matters quickly?

“I’m convinced that he’s going to come out fast again,” said Smith immediately. “Joe has said that he doesn’t expect the fight to go past seven rounds and that we’ll be in a war from the start. That’s fine with me because I’ll have twelve rounds in the tank regardless.

“I know what I can do but a lot of it depends on what Abraham does. This is where game plans are necessary and it’s all very technical, but that’s how you win a fight.”

The Smith camp hinting at the knockout might come as a surprise but the challenger is far from convinced that his pending target is bullet proof.

“I think there is vulnerability with Abraham now,” said Smith, who is 35-4 (20 knockouts). “He’s vulnerable downstairs and I’m a good body puncher. Attacking the body wasn’t even a large part of our game plan but I was able to land plenty of right hands to the body and could have done that more often.

“The thing with Arthur is that he has a great poker face, but when I watched the fight back I could see he was hurt to the body in two separate rounds. On the night he hid it well and that comes down to his advantage in experience. This time I’ll hit the target and I’ll keep hitting it.”

Gallagher’s early night prophecy was the only reason the knockout became a focal point. As the conversation progressed one sensed that Smith expects to go the distance for what would be the victory of a lifetime.

The stoppage would be an incredible result.

“It’s all right saying I’ll knock Abraham out but nobody has managed that,” said Smith with an air of acceptance. “Carl Froch couldn’t, Andre Ward couldn’t, and the only stoppage loss, against Robert Stieglitz, was on facial damage.

“I could stop him late but I will beat him on points. I know that I can outwork him and that will be the key again. I’ll throw more and land more. Hopefully I have three fair judges who recognize it this time.”

 

Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing

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