By Ian S Palmer
Former WBO Super Middleweight Champion Arthur Abraham of Armenia takes on Tim-Robin Lihaug of Norway this Saturday, July 16th at the Max Schmeling Halle in Berlin. The 12-round fight is for the vacant WBO International Super Middleweight Title and can be seen in Germany live on and SAT 1. Abraham lost his world title to undefeated Gilberto Ramirez by unanimous decision in Las Vegas in April after successfully defending it five times in his adopted homeland of Germany. Lihaug’s last outing was in December when he beat Jozsef Racz by unanimous decision. It was his sixth fight since the beginning of 2015.
The 23-year-old Lihaug climbs into the ring with a record of 15-1 along with 8 Kos while the 36-year-old Abraham is 44-5 with 29 Kos to his name. Both boxers have decent power, but not one-punch knockout devastation in their fists. Abraham’s current knockout ratio is 59 per cent while Lihaug’s is 50 per cent. Abraham certainly has the edge in experience as he’s fought numerous world title bouts and has boxed 381 rounds since turning pro in 2003. This is Lihaug’s first world title shot and he’s fought just 77 rounds as a pro. As far as size goes, Abraham is 5-feet-9-inches tall with a 72-inch reach while Lihaug’s stats are unlisted.
Lihaug hasn’t fought any Grade A boxers as of yet and is taking a big step up in quality of opposition with Abraham. His lone loss came at the hands of Sweden’s Oscar Ahlin who stopped him in the round back in. If Lihaug has any advantage it is his youth and possibly his hunger and motivation to make a name for himself in the boxing world. It’s also possible that Abraham lost it overnight and the fight against Ramirez was the beginning of the end for the former champ. On the other hand, Abraham may be just as motivated to win this fight as he seeks to regain his title down the road. A loss here could mean the former scenario is true.
Ramirez showed the rest of the world that mobility and accurate counterpunching is the way to beat Abraham and Lihaug may try the same tactics. This is basically a hometown fight for Abraham and Lihaug will need to dominate proceedings to come away with a points win. It’s unlikely he’ll be able to stop the former champ, so he’s going to have to leave no doubt in the minds of the judges if he hopes to be successful. Abraham is still a dependable and durable boxer though even if he is past his prime. He’s a true world-class boxer who has taken on the likes of Murray, Robert Stieglitz, Howard Eastman, Kingsley Ikeke, Shannon Taylor, Kofi Jantuah, Edison Miranda, Raul Marquez, Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrell, Carl Froch, and Andre Ward.
Besides losing to Ramirez in April, Abraham’s losses were to Stieglitz, Ward, Froch and Dirrell. Ward and Froch decisioned him while Abraham was disqualified in the last round against Dirrell and Stieglitz won by TKO. Abraham used to have quite a bit of power, but hadn’t scored a stoppage in eight fights dating back to 2012 until stopping Stieglitz in six rounds last summer. So he now has just one KO in his last 10 outings. Abraham is also a former IBF Middleweight Champion who made 10 defences before moving up in weight to the 168 lb. division. He took the WBO Super Middleweight crown in 2012 from Stieglitz, but lost the belt in a rematch the next year when the fight was stopped in the fourth round due to cuts. Abraham then took the title back from him via a split decision in 2014.
Abraham isn’t a huge puncher, but is still dangerous. He likes to work his way inside and dig to the body, but struggles sometimes when on the back foot. Lihaug is the unknown quantity in this bout, so we can just predict that Abraham’s experience will carry him through the fight and will likely pay off in a decision or late stoppage.