Brant could prove surprise package: WBSS super middleweight preview
This week the focus of the World Boxing Super Series turns to the last super middleweight quarter-final, as Germany's Jürgen Brähmer takes on the United States' Robert Brant. Jack Laidler previews the 168lbs clash...
The WBSS has created huge excitement around the boxing world and is a fantastic addition to an already stellar year for the sport.
The super middleweight tournament may not have quite generated the same intense buzz as the cruiserweight version but, impressively, three of Boxing Monthly's current top five super middles have already reached the semi-finals - even if our top two at the time of writing - James DeGale and Gilberto Ramirez - are absent from the tournament.
The WBSS seeding system, which saw the top seeds pick their opponents, made for gripping TV and no doubt the two tournaments will provide many moments to remember.
The first super-middleweight showdown on 16 September saw one of the pre-tournament favourites, England's Callum Smith, win a hard-fought points decision against Sweden's Erik Skoglund in Liverpool. Then, on 7 October, Chris Eubank Jr travelled to Stuttgart and crushed Avni Yildirim in three rounds to book his semi-final place. George Groves set up a mouthwatering semi-final showdown with Eubank Jr by stopping Jamie Cox in four the following week. Now Brähmer and Brant meet, with the winner promised a clash with Callum Smith in the other semi-final.
27 October: Jürgen Brähmer (48-3) vs Robert Brant (22-0) - Schwerin, Germany
This is possibly the hardest fight to call out of all the supper-middle quarter-finals. If it came purely down to experience then Brähmer would win hands down. In his 51-fight career the German has held both the WBA and WBO titles up at light-heavyweight. After his defeat to Hugo Garay in 2008, Brähmer went unbeaten for seven years, winning nine world title bouts.
Brant, on the other hand, is completely untested. All of his 22 wins have come against less than stellar opposition. His last three opponents had a combined record of 52-21-4.
However, Brant - who is moving up from middleweight - is only 26 and brings with him confidence. He has stopped his last four opponents and in Brähmer, he faces a man that is coming off a damaging defeat to Nathan Cleverly. Brähmer was made to look sluggish against the fresher Welshman and eventually withdrew in the sixth, claiming a shoulder injury in what was the first stoppage defeat of his career.
Certainly the American has been talking a good game. "I feel I am an underdog to win this tournament, but for every fight my odds will get better," he claimed last week. "After I beat Brähmer - and I am very confident I will beat Brähmer - I will move on to the next level. I am confident that I will win the entire tournament.
"I always told myself when I started boxing: 'At 27 I want to fight for a title, but I want to take my time and learn to be a pro.' I was a phenomenal point system [amateur] fighter, and I have a decent amount of professional experience that will carry me in to these big fights with these gentlemen. I don’t care who they fought. They never fought me.”
At 38 years of age there is a feeling Brähmer is perhaps past his best. Nevertheless, if Brant is merely the owner of a padded record he will be dealt with swiftly by the former champion. Should Brähmer struggle at the lower weight against the younger man he may have a difficult night's work ahead. Nevertheless, I see Brähmer winning by late stoppage.