Liverpool’s Paul Smith gets his long awaited world title shot this weekend when he faces ‘King’ Arthur Abraham in Germany for the WBO Super middleweight strap.
Abraham picked up the belt off of three close fights with Robert Stieglitz, the last of which was back in March.
Besides Stieglitz, the only other fighter with serious credentials to come up against Abraham was Andre Ward, who he lost against in 2011.
Comparatively, Paul Smith has not seen any real talent in a while either…2011 funnily enough, against George Groves, who stopped him in two rounds.
Abraham was at one point in his career a feared middleweight who couldn’t be stopped and was knocking everyone out.
For a one dimensional fighter - who has a very straight forward game-plan of cover up behind guard, wait until other fighter stops punching, commence punching, rinse and repeat - it isn't bad going.
Jokes aside, Abraham can punch, his barrage of shots did fold many a fighter, but at the top level it just took a good strategy to take him over the distance and Carl Froch did exactly that in November 2010 as part of the Super Six tournament.
Incidentally the Super Six tournament was for Super Middleweights; Abraham was always strongest at Middleweight.
Before Froch, Andre Dirrell gave it a good go against Abraham, although it ended in a DQ when Abraham hit Dirrell as he slipped over and was down, Dirrell could have carried on…he saw an out and he took it.
Andre Ward absolutely dominated Abraham as he dominates everyone in his division, but he did it with clever boxing.
The blueprint is there with Abraham. Keep him behind the jab, really dominate him with it, keep him busy, even push him back and do your own work to the body but when the onslaught comes, and it will come, then switch on and be elusive or out of range.
Can Smith do that for twelve rounds?
The last time Smith went the distance was in 2010 against Tony Dodson. When Smith has stepped up a level against the likes of Groves or James De Gale, he has been stopped.
With a KO ratio of 52%, I cannot see Smith stopping Abraham; he will have to go the distance.
I like Smith as a fighter, he fights with his heart on his sleeve and always makes for entertaining bouts but I do not think he is a world level fighter, European yes but world…no.
I think he gets drawn into a tear up with Abraham, it is in Smith’s nature and if that happens, the odds are that Smith comes off worse.
Timing is everything however and if Abraham is on the slide and Smith follows Joe Gallagher’s game plan perfectly, then he could dethrone the King.