Michael Rosenthal

RING PASS: Ward vs. Abraham

ARTHUR ABRAHAM

THE ESSENTIALS

Age: 29

Height / Reach: 5-10 (178 cm) / 72 (183 cm)

Stance: Orthodox

Hometown: Berlin, Germany (from Yerevan, Armenia)

Nickname: King Arthur

Turned pro: 2003

Record: 32-2 (26 knockouts)

Trainer: Ulli Wegner

Fight-by-fight: Click here

The Ring rating: No. 9 super middleweight

Titles: IBF middleweight (2005-09; 10 successful defenses; vacated)

Biggest victories: Kingsley Ikeke, Dec. 10, 2005, KO 5 (wins middleweight title); Edison Miranda, Sept. 23, 2006, UD 12 (retains title in spite of broken jaw); Miranda, June 21, 2008, TKO 4 (in Hollywood, Fla.; only fight outside Europe); Jermain Taylor, Oct. 17, 2009, TKO 12.

Losses/draws: Andre Dirrell, March 27, 2010, DQ 11 (Super Six tournament); Carl Froch, Nov. 27, 2010, UD 12 (Super Six)

Biography: Arthur Abraham was born and lived in Yerevan, Armenia, until the age of 14, when his family immigrated to Berlin, Germany. There, he reportedly was a competitive cyclist until taking up boxing at a relatively late age. The thick, powerful brawler reportedly had an amateur record of 81-3-6 before deciding to turn pro at 23, in 2003.

“King Arthur” was an immediate sensation, blasting his way to a record of 18-0 (with 16 knockouts) before stopping Kingsley Ikeke in five rounds to win the vacant IBF middleweight title in 2005. He had 10 successful title defenses – all but one in Germany — in his dominating 3½-year reign as a 160-pound titleholder.

Abraham was beginning to outgrow the middleweight division by 2009, when he was invited to take part in Showtime’s ground-breaking Super Six World Boxing Classic. He jumped at the chance, unaware that the biggest challenges of his career lay ahead.

The Armenian, one of the favorites to win the competition,  opened against former middleweight titleholder Jermain Taylor in October 2009. Abraham took charge by the middle rounds and then ended matters with a crushing right in the final seconds of the fight that knocked Taylor out cold and ended his career.

The emphatic KO enhanced Abraham’s reputation as one of the most-dangerous fighters in the world.

However, that reputation would take an enormous hit in his next two fights. Slick and athletic Andre Dirrell gave Abraham a boxing lesson in their second tournament fight, building a big lead by the late rounds. Then, about a minute into the 11th round, Dirrell slipped and a frustrated Abraham punched him while he was down. The American couldn’t continue, giving him a victory by disqualification.

In his final first-round fight, against Carl Froch, Abraham lost a near-shutout decision that further damaged his once-glittering reputation.

Still, Abraham had qualified for the Super Six semifinals based on his first-fight knockout. He decided to fight Stjepan Bozic in February outside the tournament to eliminate the bad taste of his two losses and scored a second-round knockout.

Under normal circumstances, Abraham probably would’ve had to rebuild his image over time. However, because he’s in the Super Six, he’ll have an immediate opportunity to erase the impact of the setbacks when he fights new tournament favorite Andre Ward on May 14.

The winner of that fight will face the winner of the June 4 semifinal between Froch and Glen Johnson for the tournament championship. If Abraham can find a way to win those fights, he will be king again.

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