Whether they like it or not, Arthur Abraham and Robert Stieglitz will always be mentioned in the same breath.
Their super middleweight title series has so far consisted of three dramatic fights and the German rivals are set to meet for the fourth time on Saturday at the Gerry Weber Stadium in Halle, Germany in a fight being billed as “Final Showdown.”
“This is not a fight that needs to be hyped,” promoter Kalle Sauerland said at this week’s final news conference. “You need only look at the first three fights between Arthur and Robert to know what we have in store for Saturday night. I’m expecting another entertaining battle and a fitting end to their epic rivalry.”
Four-fight series are rare these days. In recent years the only other high-profile four-fight series have been between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez (Pacquiao won it 2-1-1) and Rafael Marquez and Israel Vazquez (they finished 2-2).
Abraham (42-4, 28 KOs), 35, who leads the series 2-1, will be making a mandatory title defense against Stieglitz (47-4-1, 27 KOs), 34, but the truth is, mandatory or not, the fourth fight was going to happen anyway because the fights have been well received and there was a hint of controversy in fight No. 3 because it was a split decision.
They met for the first time in August 2012 with Abraham winning a competitive decision to take the 168-pound belt. In March 2013, they met in a rematch and Stieglitz knocked out Abraham in the fourth round to reclaim the title. Bout No. 3 was in March 2014 with Abraham scoring a 12th-round knockdown and winning a dramatic split decision to reclaim the title, which set the stage for the eventual fourth meeting.
Abraham agrees with his promoter, however, that this will be the last chapter of the series.
“This is the end,” Abraham said. “There will be no fifth fight. I’ve trained extremely hard and I’m ready for whatever Robert has to offer. After Saturday, there will be no questions remaining. I will prove once and for all that I’m the better boxer.”
Stieglitz feels he should have been awarded the decision in fight No. 3 and is aiming to tie the series at two fights apiece.
“I know how to beat Arthur and I’m ready to settle the score,” he said. “In my opinion the verdict from our last fight was unjust, but it’s not about the past. It’s about the here and now, and on Saturday I will become world champion again.”
Abraham, who has won six fights in a row since being stopped in their second fight – all by decision for a guy who was a knockout machine when he held a middleweight belt – wants to move past Stieglitz.
He wants to unify titles, although he was easily outpointed by champion Andre Ward during the Super Six World Boxing Classic in 2011 and there is unlikely to ever be a rematch.
“The fact that this (fourth) fight is for the world title gives me all the motivation I need,” Abraham said. “Every time I enter the ring, I give up my title, and only become champion again when the final bell sounds and my hand is raised. I must approach every fight with the same desire and will to win, and if I were to think any differently it would be time for me to hang up my gloves.
“But I’m not thinking about retirement. I’m world champion and will remain so for the next two to three years until I chose to leave the sport. I have total belief in my skills and my training, and I know I can do everything as well if not better than Stieglitz. My promoter has billed this fight as the ‘Final Showdown,’ and that is exactly what it will be. There will be no fifth fight. I will bring this rivalry to a successful conclusion and then look for a unification. That is my goal.”