- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Super middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham, who regained his belt on March 1, will make the first defense of his second reign when he faces Nikola Sjekloca on May 3 at the Velodrom in Berlin, Germany, promoter Sauerland Event announced Tuesday.
''Finally, I have the WBO belt back around my waist and I don't plan on giving it up anytime soon," said Abraham, who is already back in training camp. "I gave so much blood, sweat and tears for my last fight, and it made me a world champion again. I will need to do the same to prepare for Sjekloca on May 3rd."
The 34-year-old Abraham (39-4, 28 KOs), of Germany, reclaimed his 168-pound title by winning a split decision against rival Robert Stieglitz in his hometown of Magdeburg, Germany in the rubber match of their trilogy. The win was Abraham's third in a row since being knocked out by Stieglitz in the fourth round of their second fight last March.
Sjekloca (26-1, 8 KOs), 35, of Montenegro, came to the United States and faced Sakio Bika in a title elimination fight in February 2013 and lost a near-shutout decision. Bika went on to win a version of the 168-pound world title while Sjekloca rebounded to score a second-round knockout against sub-.500 opponent Misa Nikolic in Montenegro in August.
"Sjekloca has a good jab and tries to be very active," Ulli Wegner, Abraham's trainer said. "In his fight against Sakio Bika he also showed that he can take a punch, so Arthur cannot rely only on his power. If Arthur is able to put in another performance like he did against Stieglitz, he will prove that he is one of the best super middleweights in the world. He has clearly shown me that he is still ready to progress as a boxer."
Sauerland Event elected to put the card on in Berlin following the cancelation of a March 29 card that was scheduled to take place at the Velodrom. First, cruiserweight titlist Yoan Pablo Hernandez was scheduled to headline the show in a defense, but he got ill. Then, after fellow cruiserweight titleholder Marco Huck stepped in to headline the card, he broke his thumb and the card was canceled last week.
''Following these recent developments, it was important for us to stage this world championship fight in Berlin. As the saying goes: the third time's a charm," said Sauerland Event managing director Chris Meyer.
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