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Abraham deep into long camp for Ramirez defense

Super middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham is all business entering his April 9 title defense against unbeaten Gilberto "Zurdo" Ramirez in Las Vegas. Patrick Pleul/EPA

Super middleweight titleholder Arthur Abraham is apparently taking his upcoming defense against mandatory challenger Gilberto "Zurdo" Ramirez so seriously that he is in the midst of one of the longest training camps of his career.

"I am already feeling great. Normally I just start preparation eight weeks before a fight, but this time my whole preparation lasts about 12 weeks," Abraham said. "I am taking Gilberto Ramirez very serious."

Abraham (44-4, 29 KOs) will make the sixth defense of his 168-pound title against Ramirez (33-0, 24 KOs) on April 9 (HBO PPV) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in the co-feature of the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley III card.

Germany's Abraham, who will be fighting in the United States for the fourth time and for the first time since a lopsided loss challenging then-champion Andre Ward in 2011 during the Super Six World Boxing Classic, did a stretch of his long training camp to get ready for Ramirez in an unusual location: the Rila mountains in Bulgaria.

"My coach, Ulli Wegner, is master not only of tactics and strategy but also to find the right environment to prepare for a fight," Abraham said. "Moving to the Rila mountains at Belmeken Sports Complex in Bulgaria for three weeks in February moved my stamina to a new level. Now, I am back in Germany and my sparring is under way. It's hard to prepare for a guy like Ramirez -- not because of his style but for his physical dimensions. But, again, my coach pulled it off and found the right sparring partners."

The 5-foot-9 Abraham, 36, is referring to Ramirez’s height. The 24-year-old Mexican southpaw is 6-foot-2½ with a longer reach.