Arthur Abraham defeats Paul Smith by a wide decision
“King” Arthur Abraham will feel comfortable wearing his crown after successfully defending his WBO super middleweight title by a unanimous decision over British contender Paul Smith on Saturday in Berlin, Germany.
The official scorecards favored the home fighter 117-111, 117-111 and 116-112 in the eagerly anticipated rematch. Abraham also outpointed Smith in September.
Abraham, rated No. 2 by THE RING at 168 pounds, made his entrance to some rather unattractive love rock but looked ready for business in a suave mock tuxedo and the crowd stood as one for the popular Germany-based Armenian.
Smith got off to a good start in the first round by popping the jab and swarming his man with activity, tactics that worked well in the first encounter. However, the was unable to work in enough power shots and that allowed Abraham to build momentum.
Smith was hurt in the fourth by two solid hooks to the forehead, which momentarily took away his equilibrium, and the veteran champion unloaded at will.
Things continued to look ominous for Smith in the fifth when Abraham took time out to mock his lack of punching power. The challenger flicked out some jabs and landed some nice hooks to the body before being driven backward by a vicious two handed barrage.
In the sixth, Smith appeared to seize the momentum when he landed a well-placed left hook to the liver area that sucked the wind out of Abraham. The challenger whipped in more ferocious body shots but he will likely curse himself for not following up with more gusto.
It was the last real chance Smith had.
Abraham is a master at timing things over the course of 12 rounds and he jumped on his man heavily in the seventh. Smith fought back with passion but a big right hand steadied his legs just before the bell and that pattern continued into the championship rounds.
Joe Gallagher, Smith’s trainer, tried his best to motivate his charge. And although he got a response in rounds 11 and 12, it was too little, too late. Abraham absorbed a series of hooks to the body and fired back strongly to the head, which kept the challenger more than honest.
“Abraham was better tonight,” Smith told Sky Sports in the U.K. “I never recovered from a body shot in Round 5 and there was a really big head shot in there as well. I’ve held my own against a quality world champion but he beat me tonight.
“His defense was quality and he’s like a brick wall.”
Their first fight was marred by uncomfortably wide scoring in Abraham’s favor. The subsequent controversy created such a stir that Smith was granted another opportunity but he couldn’t take advantage of it.
There has been a dip in Abraham’s form since he moved from middleweight to super middleweight, although the 35 year old still retains plenty of strengths. He is beyond durable and his persistent pressure is capable of sucking the ambition from many a spirited contender.
Smith, on this reporter’s card, was very unlucky not to receive the verdict five months ago and it’s a shame that history will be cruel to what was an inspired effort. The Liverpool man’s future is unclear at this point but, following a period of convalescing, we’re likely to see him back in action.
Abraham (42-4, 28 knockouts) weighed in at 167.9 pounds, with Smith (35-5, 20 KOs) way under the division limit at 165.6.
Former British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion David Price (18-2, 15 KOs) scored a sixth-round stoppage over Irinue Beato Costa, decking his man on three occasions to claim victory in a scheduled 10-round bout.
The big punching Liverpool star boxed within himself in the early sessions, setting up well-placed power shots behind an accurate and steady left jab. Costa lacked the talent and physical dimensions to challenge Price and the bout quickly descended into target practice.
In the sixth, Price followed a right lead with a powerful left hook to the jaw and Costa hit the canvas hard. The Brazilian rose gamely but was left woozy from another right and a follow up one-two decked him again. Price released a quick flurry to register the third, and decisive, knockdown.
European outfit Sauerland Promotions has been rebuilding Price following two straight stoppage losses to American veteran Tony Thompson. This was the Englishman’s fourth straight win away from home and the plan now is a summer homecoming bout in Liverpool.
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing