BERLIN — March 23 shall represent another glorious day for Arthur Abraham (36-3, 28 KOs). Then he will meet Robert Stieglitz (43-3, 24 KOs) for their hotly anticipated rematch inside the GETEC-Arena in Magdeburg, Germany. The 33-year-old Abraham captured the WBO super mddleweight world championship last August when he beat Stieglitz on points in his hometown of Berlin. This time the champion is making his way to his opponent’s backyard. In the following interview, he reveals what kind of performance can be expected from him.
Abraham-Stieglitz II will be televised live ringside to the U.S. from GTEC Arena in Magdeburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany on Saturday, March 23, beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET / 1:30 p.m. PT, exclusively on EPIX, the premium entertainment service. EPIX will stream the fights live on EpixHD.com and on the EPIX app on Xbox consoles and Roku players as part of a special free trial offer for boxing fans.
Mr. Abraham, the last time people saw you putting on the gloves you beat Frenchman Mehdi Bouadla by technical knockout on December 15. Were you satisfied with your first title defense at super-middleweight?
Arthur Abraham: I guess that I showed quite a good performance against Bouadla. There might have been some details I could have done better but in the end, I dominated my opponent that night and took care of him early. In preparation to that fight Mister Wegner told me his expectations and I must have fulfilled most of them. Anyway, he didn’t complain to me afterwards.
March 23 will mark the second time you are going to face Robert Stieglitz. Is there anything left you can surprise him with – or could he surprise you?
Arthur Abraham: Stieglitz hasn’t seen the best that Arthur Abraham has to offer in our first fight whereas he might have already shown everything he’s got. I have some words for him: Beware, because our rematch is going to be much tougher than the first fight! I’m training as hard as ever for this clash. After all, the crowd deserves to be entertained. My training regime is pure torment – and I love it.
Is it easy for you to adjust to Stieglitz’s style because you already fought him before?
Arthur Abraham: Definitely, I already beat him and I got all the knowledge and tools to do it again. He can’t really alter the way he fights but I should not underestimate him. Stieglitz wasn’t a world champion for nothing, defending his title a few times before I took it off him. He still has the ambition to beat me. Therefore, I have to sit down again with my coach and develop a game plan to defend my belt.
Do you feel better prepared in comparison to the first fight against Stieglitz?
Arthur Abraham: I feel prepared just as well. My coach and the rest of the team make me feel like that I can beat him for a second time. I still have a lot left inside my tank and want to defend my title a few times. My shape and motivation are the fundament for me still being the WBO Champion after March 23.
You will step inside the arena as the defending champion. The first fight versus Stieglitz saw you as the challenger. Do you have a different mindset with the belt around your waist?
Arthur Abraham: My attitude is still the same. I want to be the one standing tall. If I would think differently, I could capitulate before the fight has even happened. To defend a world championship is quite different than to challenge for a title. I have experienced both situations. Therefore, I know that Stieglitz will be fired up to get his hands on the WBO Belt again. But I won’t let him. My will and winning mentality will outlast his.
Can you please tell us about the punching power of Robert Stieglitz? Are you worried about it?
Arthur Abraham: I have respect for every opponent I face inside the ring. All I can say is that I have fought opponents with much more pop. I can assure you first-hand that he isn’t feather-fisted but Stieglitz doesn’t have the power to threaten me.
The first fight was staged in your hometown of Berlin. For the rematch, you have to go to his backyard – will this be a special challenge to you?
Arthur Abraham: Indeed, this fight is going to happen in his hometown of Magdeburg but this won’t work to his advantage as he might think. Years ago, my coach Ulli Wegner guided Sven Ottke to his biggest successes at this very arena. I feel confident that more than half of the crowd will side with me come March 23. Moreover, Berlin isn’t that far away either. For one night only, the city of Magdeburg will be my backyard. The people who might boo me at the beginning will be the ones who will cheer me the loudest after the fight.
The first time you fought Stieglitz, you followed the game plan of winning the fight on points. Are you planning for a stoppage win this time around?
Arthur Abraham: First and foremost, I plan to win – it doesn’t matter if I beat him on points or get it done early. To win by knockout is always like the cherry on the cake but you can’t plan such things beforehand. I still haven’t reached the top of my game as a boxer and I know that I can do even better. I know that I will be more aggressive in the rematch. It will be a much more intense encounter and the crowd will see if my opponent can put up some resistance – or not.