Liverpool’s favourite fighter Paul Smith is ready for his well deserved second crack at WBO world super-middleweight champion ‘king’ Arthur Abraham on February 21st at the O2 World Arena in Berlin, Germany.
Paul Smith went into the first fight in Kiel as a big underdog but pushed the champion all the way to the final bell in what was arguably a career best performance… or so everyone thought. Judges at ringside scored the bout 117-111 117-111 and 119-109 all unanimously in favour of the defending champion Abraham. It was a scorecard that shocked nearly everyone concerned. It wasn’t the fact that Abraham’s hand was the one being raised at the end of the 12 rounds; it could have gone either way, but more the huge margin of defeat that blatantly did not reflect the closeness of the fight.
There is the argument that Abraham simply underestimated Smith the first time around and will be fitter and better prepared this time. Or was it a case of employing the wrong tactics? Was the Armenian born German showing mental scarring from his fights with Robert Stieglitz?He was knocked out in the fourth round by Stieglitz in 2013 after being pulverised into submission. His swollen face told the tale of the fight. However in March of last year he avenged that defeat by coming out and electing to outbox Stieglitz behind his jab. His tactics paid off as he earned a well deserved split decision points victory. Against Smith he looked as if he was trying to adopt a similar approach by sticking behind his jab again. It might pay dividends for him to be more aggressive this time however he may be of the opinion that he doesn’t need to do anything differently, after all, he won the first fight conclusively on the scorecards.
This rematch is a career defining fight for Paul Smith. He has come onto the world scene late in his career after looking destined to be a perrenial british champion without the talent to break through the glass ceiling at domestic level. He is a solid good all rounder with few weaknesses but doesn’t really possess a particular aspect that is exceptional or looks sensational from ringside. He is a fighter that has struggled with quick fighters before such as George Groves and James Degale both of whom stopped the Liverpudlian. However, despite having heavy hands Abraham isn’t blessed with speed. In fact Paul Smith will proabably be the one keen to force the pace and take Abraham out of his comfort zone in terms of intensity in this encounter.
Smith might be fighting in foreign lands again but will take over to Germany a huge contingent of fans; even more than last time which is yet another psycological boost for him. He has set up camp in Berlin a week before fight night and has for company all of the Gallagher’s gym stable of fighters. In his gym mates he has an array of champions who are all helping him to prepare thoroughly. He will no doubt have grown in confidence since the first fight in which there were so many doubts as to his credentials as a world title challenger. He now knows he is capable of mixing it at this level. He also believes having shared the ring with Abraham before that his opponent is past his peak and in fast decline.
A loss for the Englishman could leave him with that unwanted tag of being a very good domestic fighter who never quite had enough at world level. He is a fighter that on his day can rise up and become a world champion in a similar way to someone like former IBF middleweight champion Darren Barker.You just get the sense that if he could pull off the win it would prove to be the pinnacle of his career. It would mean a lot more to Smith to win the world title than it would for Abraham to defend it. He may come out fighting like a man possessed. At odds of 15/4 Smith certainly represent the greater value going into this showdown.
Smith: W35 KO20 L4 KO2 KO%51.28
Abraham: W41 KO28 L4 KO1 KO%62.22