Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen
Arthur Abraham retained possession of the WBO European super middleweight title on Saturday, March 31 as he outpointed Piotr Wilczewski at the Sparkassen-Arena in Kiel, Germany. It took Abraham six rounds to get comfortable with the contest as he was foiled by the challenger’s fight-controlling jab yet, in round seven, a bizarre point deduction turned the tie to Abraham’s favour and his power began to pay dividends.
Official verdict: Arthur wins unanimous decision (118-109, 118-109, 119-109).
Having given Britain’s gold medal winning boxer from the Beijing Olympics, James DeGale, all kinds of trouble in a battling 12-rounder last year, Piotr Wilczewski bounced back from the close defeat to edge Geard Ajetovic on points in Poland. He was the underdog against Arthur Abraham on Saturday evening, but came with a warning from DeGale himself… if Abraham didn’t flex his powerful muscle like he did as a middleweight and knock him out in the first third, then his evening would prove long, arduous and hard fought.
Abraham – looking to exert himself in a 168lb weight class that had, thus far, gotten the better of him whenever he was in with the elite – boxed tentatively in the opening round aside from one punch that forced Wilczewski into an immediate clinch. The sole shot, though, was not enough to offset the work-rate, pressure and ring generalship that the Pole had enjoyed throughout the near entirety of the first set of threes.
What was problematic with Wilczewski’s come-forward nature, was that, in the second round, he showed he was prone to walking into Abraham’s straight rights, as well as his orthodox jabs. Piotr would vary the jab, to the brainbox and the midsection, but there was a clear differential in terms of power, with Abraham the mightier.
Boxing from range, Wilczewski managed to control part of the round by using his jab, however, as soon as he took a moment to pause, Abraham lunged in and struck his opponent with a combination of clubbing punches. The far busier fighter, Wilczewski continued his pressuring style into the fourth but, with Abraham fighting in his adopted boxing nation and, considering his moments of eye-catching aggressiveness, the scorecards at ringside could be split as to whom got the nod in such rounds: Abraham’s brief, but undeniable strength and power, or Wilczewski’s jab and constant fists.
In the fifth, Wilczewski caught Abraham with a flush crunch to the jaw but, moments into the sixth, the Armenia-born 32-year-old came out firing as if buoyed following instruction that carried a sense of urgency from his corner. Wilczewski shot his jab from waist-level and, while it was a reliable asset in Germany against King Arthur, the positioning lended itself to being open to receiving a hook shot – something Abraham all too willingly landed at the contest’s midway stage.
In the seventh, the signature move of flurrying fast with aggression but only in sporadic moments, was one in which Abraham employed. The first, involved a number of hooking shots to the body (with the bulk of the power deflated as it primarily connected with Wilczewski’s arms), however, Piotr was unable to negate the strength as he neglected the jab and so Abraham combo’d, repeatedly, to the head, all the way to the chime of the ring bell which concluded a hellacious round for the home fighter.
Moments before the end of play in round seven, Wilczewski was deducted a point yet it was unclear what exactly the referee saw. That same referee, though, was unable to use that vision to spot a very obvious left hook to the testicles that Wilczewski was forced to accept.
In the final third of the fight, Abraham appeared to have broken and beaten Wilczewski as the pendulum had swung firmly in his favour, Wilczewski had felt the full whack of Arthur’s power and, as a consequence, was breathing heavily and the primary factor that had won him rounds earlier in combat – his work-rate – had declined, rapidly.
Wilczewski was ran ragged in the championship rounds, particularly in the dying moments of the 11th round, when he fought on unsteady legs, was wobbled repeatedly from Abraham’s left hooks and was lucky to not get pulled from the fight by the referee following a royal bombardment from the former middleweight ruler. He was allowed to continue… and earned his deserved pay by hearing the final bell three minutes later.
Abraham slugged his way to victory, but only after some hairy moments in the fight’s first half. The point deduction was not fair, the victory was deserved, but the margin was not. However, with the win, Abraham – who could see himself thrust into a super middleweight world title shot against the winner of the upcoming match-up between British 168lber George Groves and German champion Robert Stieglitz – moved to 34-3-0, 27ko while Wilczewski, despite an admirable challenge, dropped to 30-3-0, 10ko.