CARSON, Calif. — Arthur Abraham’s first super middleweight bout was also his U.S. debut. The long-reigning Germany based middleweight beltholder brutally knocked out Edison Miranda in the fourth round of a Showtime-televised fight.
Abraham said he wanted to be a star in America during his post-fight interview after the Miranda fight. His participation in Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic was supposed to be his vehicle to realizing that goal.
However, the dream officially ended after Abraham lost a unanimous decision to Andre Ward in a semifinal bout of the super middleweight tournament Saturday at Home Depot Center. The undefeated American titleholder, who won by scores of 120-108, 118-110 and 118-111, soundly out-boxed and outworked Abraham.
Abraham’s ones-sided decision loss was the result most fans expected based on the 31-year-old veteran’s previous two Super Six bouts.
Following a 12th-round TKO of former middleweight champ Jermain Taylor in his first bout of the tournament in October of 2009, Abraham was disqualified against Andre Dirrell and outclassed by Carl Froch.
Abraham disgraced himself against Dirrell by blatantly hitting the talented American after he slipped to the canvass in the 11th-round of their fight, which took place last March. Dirrell, who scored a fourth-round knockdown, was in command of the fight and well ahead on the scorecards at the time of the disqualification.
Abraham never got the opportunity to land a significant punch — legal or foul — against Froch, who boxed and moved his way to a near shut-out unanimous decision over the Armenian last November.
Abraham (32-3, 26 knockouts), who scored enough points with the Taylor victory to make it into the Super Six semifinals, was in a must-win situation against Ward (24-0, 13 KOs).
He had to go for broke against the heavily favored 2008 Olympic gold medalist to not only stay in the tournament but keep his professional career alive.
For three rounds it looked like Abraham might make something happen. He took the fight to Ward and landed hard jabs and left hooks as he backed the WBA titleholder up.
However, after a strong third round, Abraham’s punch output fell considerably once Ward began letting his hands go in blazing combination. The second half of the bout belonged to Ward, who was in firm control even when Abraham tried to rally in the final two rounds.
“I started well and I thought I did good the first three rounds,” Abraham said afterward. “He didn’t hit me and I was blocking a lot of his shots.
“But then I tried to go for the knockout and it didn’t turn out (well for me). I cramped up and I got too tense when I tried to knock him out (in the third round). I gave it my all.”
Abraham’s all was obviously not enough for Ward, Froch or Dirrell. It’s a safe bet that it won’t be enough for any elite super middleweight, which begs the question: Where does Abraham go from here?
The former IBF 160-pound beltholder said dropping back down to middleweight is not an option. He says he intends to stick it out at super middleweight, which basically gives him two options:
He can return to Germany and challenge Robert Stieglitz or Dimitri Sartison, two super middleweight beltholders who are based in his adapted home country and not nearly as talented as the fighters he's had to face in the Super Six tournament.
Or he can continue to fight in America as a “stepping stone” opponent against fellow veterans who are trying to rebound from recent losses — such as former middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik, Librado Andrade and Allan Green — or against undefeated young up-and-comers such as Peter Quillin and Marco Antonio Periban.
Whatever course Abraham decides to take it’s a fair bet that he won’t be favored to succeed.
Most fans and members of the boxing media will likely brand Abraham as an “overrated no-hoper” after Saturday’s loss (if they hadn’t already done so).
However, while it’s true that Abraham is limited in terms of his skill and style, he’s also a tough S.O.B. with dangerous power and attitude. He's strong enough to make for a fun fight against a fellow brute like Andrade, and he's experienced and durable enough to serve as a test for a hot prospect such as Quillin.
Abraham can make for competitive and compelling fights, just not against boxers who are the caliber of Ward, Froch and Dirrell.
The fact that the talented trio had a combined record of 67-2 when they fought Abraham should be considered before the former titleholder is dismissed as a “bum.”
Abraham’s “American Dream” ended with his Super Six participation, but his career isn't necessarily over.