Arthur Abraham heads into this weekend’s super middleweight meeting with Italian Giovanni De Carolis with WBO champion Robert Stieglitz firmly on his mind. If successful it is likely that in the first quarter of 2014 the two will lock horns for a rubbermatch with things nicely poised at 1-1.
With that in mind De Carolis was selected, as Abraham (37-4, 28 knockouts) said through his translator Thomas Schlabe of Sauerland Events: “This fight is going to be ideal for me as I need somebody to emulate Stieglitz‘s aggressiveness in the ring.”
Many have questioned whether the 33-year-old‘s powers are waning and if he is the man he once was inside the ring. It’s not something “King” Arthur agreed with, countering, “I still think that I can show the fans and the experts that I am boxer of championship material” before adding, “All I need is a chance to do so and to get it I must win my next fight.”
The former long-reigning IBF middleweight ruler, who was born in Armenia but has lived in Germany since his mid teens, is one of the most popular fighters in his adopted homeland.
Here’s what Abraham, who’s currently ranked No. 15 by the WBC, No. 1 by the WBO, and No. 6 by THE RING at 168 pounds, had to say ahead of his upcoming bout:
Anson Wainwright: In your last fight you won a 12-round decision over Willbeforce Shihepo. He gave you a tough fight. Looking back what would you say about that fight?
Arthur Abraham: He was a relentless fighter and my goal was not to bang with him but to outbox him, which I did to a certain point. It wasn’t my best performance but with the win I secured my chance to fight again for the world championship.
AW: You fight in Oldenburg on Oct. 26 – what can you tell us about this fight and your opponent?
AA: My opponent will be Giovanni De Carolis. He is a bit taller than me and likes to use his height. De Carolis operates with straight shots and is often on the front foot. This fight is going to be ideal for me as I need somebody to emulate Stieglitz‘s aggressiveness in the ring.
AW: Is the plan if all goes well on Oct. 26 to fight Robert Stieglitz for a third time?
AA: Yes. I was already named WBO mandatory after my last fight but I want the best preparation possible. So this fight will be like a final rehearsal to me.
AW: When you look at the first two fights with Stieglitz, what are your thoughts?
AA: Our first meeting at the O2World in Berlin was something special to me as I was crowned a two-division world champion. Back then, I clearly outboxed Stieglitz. In the second fight I was a bit surprised with him going full throttle. I was not really in the fight when I suffered this freakish eye injury. I want settle our rivalry once and for all and therefore I have to make a statement on Oct. 26.
AW: Some people have questioned you, saying you have slipped a little from what you once were. How would you answer that?
AA: I am older and wiser nowadays. Of course I have critics and they praise me when I do good and they blame me when I perform not the way I should. I still think that I can show the fans and the experts that I am boxer of championship material. All I need is a chance to do so and to get it I must win my next fight.
AW: If I can take you back, you were born in Yerevan, Armenia – can you tell us about your younger days and the path you took into boxing?
AA: When I was living in Armenia, I was a cyclist. Only when I moved to Germany at the age of 15 did I start with boxing. Although I was already interested in boxing when I was 10 years old, Germany was the place of my first steps inside a squared circle.
AW: Tell us about your team, who is your manager, trainer & promoter, also where do you train and what is a typical day in training?
AA: My manager is Wilfried Sauerland and I am promoted by Sauerland Event. My coach is Ulli Wegner and I am training at the Max Schmeling Gym in Berlin, Germany. Normally, my coach addresses my team mates and me before we start to train. The training is customized for every boxer at our gym by my coach and his assistant, Georg Bramowski. Before fights I have several performance tests to check on my current form.
AW: What are your thoughts on the super middleweight division?
AA: Andre Ward is the champion and rightfully placed on top of the rankings but my current goal is to secure a third meeting with Robert Stieglitz and to beat him. When I have done so I would like to get rematches with the fighters I have lost to. I want to prove that I can do better against them.
AW: Over the coming months it looks like Andre Ward will fight Edwin Rodriguez and also Carl Froch will fight George Groves – what do you think of each of those fights and who wins them?
AA: Besides punching power, Ward has every advantage in a fight against Rodriguez. His experience alone will give him his next victory. In the other fight I see Groves as a lively underdog and would not be surprised if he beats Froch. I was ringside for one of his latest victories and I am really impressed by him. He could well be one of the best in the future as he is still very young.
AW: You have fought many of the best middleweights and super middleweights during your career – who would you say is the best and why?
AA: Ward. He is a master tactician against whom you need a special game plan which to this point nobody has come close to figuring it out.
AW: When you‘re not boxing what do you enjoy doing with your time?
AA: I like to watch other sports but I also try to play them, like football and basketball.
AW: In closing do you have a message for the Super Middleweight division?
AA: It’s not about talking but performing. When I regain the WBO title from Stieglitz, I might give it a shot and have a few words to share but until then it’s just about what happens inside the ring!
Photos by Martin Rose-Bongarts/Gettyimages