- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Super middleweight titleholder Arthur Abraham has signed a contract extension with promoter Team Sauerland, which will keep him tied to Germany's No. 1 promoter until the end of 2017, the company announced on Monday.
On July 18, Abraham (43-4, 29 KOs), 35, of Germany, knocked out rival Robert Stieglitz in the sixth round of their fourth title fight to take the series 3-1. Abraham, one of Team Sauerland's cornerstone fighters for years, said the terms of his new deal were agreed to before the bout took place but that he signed the paperwork after his victory.
"Weeks before my last fight, it had already been agreed with a handshake that I would be extending my contact until the end of 2017," Abraham said. "But before signing, I wanted to prove to my team and my fans that I can still perform at the highest level. I proved that by beating Robert and now my signature is on the contract."
Team Sauerland's Kalle Sauerland was happy to retain Abraham's services.
"With his brilliant knockout against Stieglitz, Arthur has shown that he is still one of the best super middleweights on the planet," Sauerland said. "The hunger is still there and now it's time for him to cement his legacy."
It is unclear what Abraham's next move will be. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is anxious to try to make a fight between Abraham and Gilberto Ramirez (32-0, 24 KOs), the 24-year-old Mexican mandatory challenger he promotes. But Stieglitz was the previous mandatory challenger and the next mandatory bout is not due yet.
Another possible fight -- and a very intriguing one -- could be against legend Bernard Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KOs), the former middleweight and light heavyweight champion, in early 2016. Hopkins, who turns 51 on Jan. 15, is still fighting at a top level and intends to have at least once more bout. He said he wants it to be a meaningful one.
The presumptive Hall of Famer has never won a super middleweight title and told ESPN.com in Las Vegas this past weekend, where he was working the Sergey Kovalev-Nadjib Mohammedi HBO telecast as an analyst, that he would like to fight Abraham. He said he could get down to 168 pounds without an issue for the fight.
Hopkins, coming off the loss of his light heavyweight belts to Kovalev by decision in November, said he would be willing to travel to Germany for the fight but said he believed there would be more money for both to have his farewell fight in the United States.
WBO president Paco Valcarcel told ESPN.com the organization would approve Hopkins to challenge Abraham for the belt.
Abraham, who retained his title for the fourth time in the finale against Stieglitz, has won seven fights in a row since losing the second meeting with him in 2013 and has been fighting well since he flamed out in the 2009 to 2011 Super Six World Boxing Classic by losing three of his four bouts (to Andre Ward, Carl Froch and Andre Dirrell by disqualification). His only win in the tournament was his first, a crushing 12th-round knockout of faded former undisputed middleweight champion Jermain Taylor.
"The Super Six tournament may have come a little too early for me," said Abraham, who entered the tournament after vacating a middleweight belt and moving up in weight. "But now I have without a doubt arrived in the super middleweight division. I love challenges and I want to test myself against the very best. My ultimate aim is unifications. I want to prove that I'm No. 1 in my weight class."