Abraham ready to test Eubank Jr credentials
On Saturday night, Chris Eubank Jr will face perhaps the toughest test of his career thus far when he comes face to face with 37-year-old ‘King’ Arthur Abraham...
Even if you argue that Eubank's losing effort to Billy Joe Saunders in 2014 surpasses the challenge of Abraham, it is a certainty that the former two-weight world champion will be the 27-year-old Brighton enigma's first substantial test in over two years.
Abraham has collected titles at both middleweight and super middleweight and has been involved in more than 20 world title fights. The ‘Abrahammer’ is also no stranger to fighting British pugilists. Most notably, he faced - and was victorious against - Howard Eastman and Wayne Elcock in his time at middleweight, and also holds wins over Paul Smith and Martin Murray during his reign as WBO super-middleweight king.
However the British fighter that Eubank will be trying to emulate will be his former sparring partner and three-time world champion, Carl Froch.
Froch and Abraham met in the winter of 2010, in the third stage of the 'Super Six' World Boxing Classic, a competition devised to pit the very best super middleweights on the globe against one another.
Heading into the competition Abraham had already solidified a reputation as one of the most talented middleweights on the planet. He had picked up the IBF strap almost five years earlier and defended the title on ten occasions.
Although he had picked up good wins against unbeaten talents such as Edison Miranda and Sebastian Demers, and also claimed a stoppage win over former IBF super welterweight champion Raul Marquez, Abraham had struggled to secure unification fights, hence his move to super middle.
His first round 'Super Six' contest pitted him against the former undisputed middleweight champion of the world, Jermain Taylor. Those that enjoy a highlight reel knockout should go and watch the 12th round of this contest - ahead on all of the judges’ scorecards, Abraham flattened Taylor with a colossal straight right hand.
After the Taylor triumph, Abraham was 31-0 and regarded by many as one of the best fighters in world boxing.
His second 'Super Six' contest pitted him against the talented Andre Dirrell. The American was coming off the back of a highly controversial split decision defeat to Carl Froch and was unfortunate in the eyes of some not to be going into the Abraham bout as the WBC super middleweight champion.
In only his second fight in the United States, Abraham struggled to cope with the skill set of the former Olympic bronze medallist. Dirrell was able to punch through the rigid guard of Abraham throughout the contest hurting him on several occasions.
Abraham found himself on the canvas for the first time in his career in round four after being stung with a Dirrell hook. Going into the eleventh round Abraham was down on all of the judges’ scorecards. Whilst trading shots in a neutral corner Dirrell slipped and, while the American was on the floor, a careless Abraham right hook caught his opponent on the temple. Dirrell immediately flopped to the canvas, causing the referee to end the contest and disqualify Abraham.
Abraham’s next opponent was the powerful and exciting former WBC champion Carl Froch, who came into the fight fresh off the back of his first career defeat - a debatable unanimous decision loss to Mikkel Kessler.
Much like Abraham, Froch entered the third round of the 'Super Six' as an already proven champion at the elite level, having ruled as English, Commonwealth and British super middleweight champion, as well as WBC champion, defeating the likes of Robin Reid and Jean Pascal along the way, while also defeating Jermain Taylor and the aforementioned Dirrell in the 'Super Six'.
Even Froch's loss to Kessler had seen him emerge with credit, having gone toe to toe with the Dane for the full twelve rounds in a contender for fight of the year.
On 27 November 2010, Abraham and Froch came together in Helsinki, Finland. The contest was made more vital due to Kessler having to vacate his newly won WBC crown due to a potentially career-ending eye injury. This meant the winner would once again become a world champion.
With two heavy-handed brawlers facing each other, you would have been excused for expecting a war. Instead Froch changed tactics and chose to pick his shots from distance in the early rounds. His jab stabbed through the tight guard of Abraham distracting the Armenian and preventing him from getting in close.
Froch, being the taller man, was able to land with stinging upper cuts as Abraham trudged forward. The ‘Cobra’ alternated well between body and head, preventing Abraham from putting together many meaningful attacks.
As the fight wore on Abraham slowed, allowing Froch to move forward and put his weight behind his shots. The punishment increased through the ninth and tenth rounds and Abraham barely made it out of the eleventh as Froch unleashed one of his famous onslaughts.
A brief salvo in the 12th resulted in Abraham stunning Froch with a huge right hand but the much needed knockout did not transpire.
Froch was deservedly given the decision by way of 119-109, 120-108 and 120-108 scorecards. It was the first time in Abraham’s career that he had been unequivocally dominated.
Since his defeat to Froch almost seven years ago, Abraham has been defeated on another three occasions, however the 37-year-old pugilist should not be written off.
He has won ten of his last eleven contests and, of his five career defeats just one has come via stoppage, when a horrendous eye injury saw his second contest with Robert Stieglitz halted on medical grounds.
In the final analysis, Eubank Jr vs Abraham is a tremendous clash of styles that will go a long way to proving if the man from Brighton is genuine world class, as well as how much the admirable Abraham has left in the tank.