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Best I Faced: Arthur Abraham

Photo by Martin Rose/ Bongarts/ Getty Images
Fighters Network

Granite-chinned Arthur Abraham won world titles at middleweight and super middleweight during a 15-year career in the 2000s through the 2010s.

Abraham was born Avetik Abrahamyan in Yerevan, Armenia, on February 20, 1980.

“My upbringing and education was quite different from other countries,” Abraham told The Ring. “The years when we were under Soviet Union [rule] taught us to survive. I think it is good to have a goal and fight for it. The Republic of Armenia got independence from [Russia on] September 21, 1991 and we are developing day by day.”

When he moved to Germany at 15, his interest in sports grew. Athletically gifted, Abraham excelled at cycling and was the North Bavarian and Franconian Youth champion. However, it was in boxing that his future lay.

Abraham was the international junior welterweight German champion in 1997. From there, he returned to Armenia with hopes of representing his country of birth at the 2000 Olympics, but two years in the military took Sydney off the radar.

Abraham, who has a degree in international management ,went on to win three consecutive light middleweight titles in Armenia before moving back to Germany in 2003.

After going 90-7 as an amateur, Abraham caught the eye of acclaimed trainer Ulli Wegner and became a regular sparring partner for then-super middleweight titleholder Sven Ottke.

The young fighter turned pro with Sauerland Event, in August 2003, and posted a routine third-round win on the undercard of WBC 168-pound titleholder Markus Beyer’s controversial disqualification victory over Danny Green.

Abraham moved quickly and scored some impressive wins on his way up before notably outboxing the vastly more experienced former world title challenger Howard Eastman in July 2005.

When Jermain Taylor vacated the IBF title, Abraham picked up the belt by halting American-based Nigerian Kingsley Ikeke in December 2005.

“That feeling was indescribable,” said Abraham, who stopped Ikeke in five rounds. “I cried with joy and couldn’t stop. I had waited for 25 years and worked towards this with my trainer, Ulli Wegner, and my team.”

Abraham in a pose that became a habit.

Abraham successfully turned back the challenges of savvy veterans Shannon Taylor (UD 12) and Kofi Jantuah (UD 12). He then faced the unbeaten Edison Miranda, and, in a particularly memorable fight, battled through a broken jaw from round four to outpoint the power-punching Colombian.

“That was one of my toughest fights,” Abraham recalled. “I’ve never had so much pain in my life, but my trainer taught me: ‘Only those who can take it when it gets difficult will be really big.’ Mine and my trainer’s motto: ‘We don’t know pain.’”

Abraham, who made 10 successful defenses over a three-and-a-half-year period, scored highlight reel knockouts over Khoren Gevor (KO 11) and Elvin Ayala (KO 12). He also bludgeoned former IBF junior middleweight titleholder Raul Marquez (RTD 6) to defeat.

In the midst of his reign, the power-puncher again met Miranda in a non-title catchweight bout and erased any doubt, stopping him in four rounds.

With nothing left to prove at middleweight, Abraham moved up to super middleweight, where bigger opponents and purses awaited in Showtime’s Super Six tournament. In his first bout, he faced former unified 160-pound titleholder Jermain Taylor in Berlin, in October 2009.

“It was very big fight and very important that I win the fight,” said Abraham. “I won the fight in the last seconds with a KO. All the people were very happy and I am double happy.”

Next up was uber-talented American speedster Andre Dirrell, who gave Abraham all he could handle. Dirrell was on course to win a wide decision when the German hit him while he was down and got himself disqualified in the 11th round.

Abraham was then comprehensively outboxed by Carl Froch in Helsinki, Finland, in November 2010.

Despite these setbacks, the withdrawals of Dirrell and Taylor from the tournament meant that, following a comeback win, Abraham faced off against Andre Ward in the semi-final.

“What can I say to you? He had the best tactics and he won.” said Abraham, who dropped a wide 12-round unanimous decision.

After his elimination from the tournament, Abraham returned to Germany. Following two wins, he was lined up for the first bout in a rivalry with then-WBO 168-pound ruler Robert Stieglitz.

“Our first meeting at the O2 World Arena, in Berlin, was something special to me as I was crowned a two-division world champion,” he said proudly. “Back then, I clearly outboxed Stieglitz.”

In the rematch, Stieglitz turned the tables on Abraham, stopping him in the third round.

“I was a bit surprised with him going full throttle,” Abraham admitted. “I was not really in the fight when I suffered this freakish eye injury.”

Abraham returned with two victories to set up the much-anticipated rubber match with Stieglitz. A close fight ensued, however, Abraham scored a last-round knockdown that was pivotal in him regaining the title by 12-round split decision.

“I trained very hard and I bring my title back,” he said. “This is a very important and happy day for me.”

“King” Arthur made five more defenses, besting British duo Paul Smith (UD 12/ UD 12) and Martin Murray (SD 12) as well as ending any debate against Stieglitz (TKO 6).

Abraham at war with Robert Stieglitz. Photo by Sebastian Heger

He would lose his WBO belt to rising Mexican star Gilberto Ramirez (UD 12), but fought on for a couple more years before bowing out with a highly respectable 47-6 (30 knockouts) record.

“I am very happy, I am very lucky,” he said of his career. “I have my children, my wife, and my family. I want more children. I love boxing, but I don’t like to fight. I had many fights, and I am happy with my career, but it has ended and now it time to enjoy my life.”

Abraham, now 41, is married to Lusya, and the couple live in Berlin with their three young children.

“I’m a businessman,” Abraham said. “My money, what I made in boxing, I’ve invested in real estate. I work even harder now as I want to advance my projects and make them come true. I employ 62 people. [I have a] hotel [off the coast of the] Baltic Sea, and real estate, around Germany. It is my goal that I employ 100 people.

“To this day I am very thankful to my trainer, Ulli Wegner, and my promoter, Wilfried Sauerland. Without these two people, I would not be where I am today.”

The two-weight world titleholder graciously took time to speak to The Ring about the best he fought in 10 key categories.

Jermain Taylor: It was the best jab that I faced. It very hard, very fast and very powerful. I felt pain on my right side after the fight because of the jab.

Andre Ward: It was tough to land clean shots on him.

Ward: His handspeed was very quick.

Andre Dirrell: It was not just one; there were a couple: Andre Ward and Andre Dirrell. Dirrell had good footwork; he was running very fast. His footwork was very intelligent.

Ward: Ward was very smart, he beat everybody.

Edison Miranda: He was born strong, he was physically very strong. When he hit me, I felt pain in all my body. But I was smarter than him.

Kofi Jantuah: Carl Froch and Kofi Jantuah had a good chins. I would say Jantuah, he took all my punches and never went down. I hit Jantuah more than Froch. When Taylor hit Froch, he went down. Jantuah just kept coming.

Taylor: He’s a very, very hard puncher. His left is very hard. He hurt me too much in our fight. I eliminated all the pain at the end to win. I took many punches and survived.

Ward: Andre Ward was a big talent. He had the best technique, best speed, best distance [control]. Everything, for me, is Ward.

Ward: He was born for boxing. After you have this in your system, you can train all you like but you cannot be like he is naturally. God gave him a little bit; his father gave him a little bit; and he gave some. Altogether he is the best. He won Olympic gold, naturally a very good talent. He had speed, he’s very smart, and professionally he was very good. To me, he is the best.

Abraham’s wife, Lusya, helped translate this feature. The Ring appreciates her assistance.


Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright