Abraham dusts off after Super Six slump
When Showtime's recently concluded Super Six World Boxing Classic began in late 2009, Arthur Abraham was undefeated, and the former middleweight titlist -- who had moved up to super middleweight for the tournament -- was favored to reach the final along with Mikkel Kessler.
That was then and this is now, as Abraham (32-3, 26 KOs) is trying to put his career back together at age 31 after a miserable performance in the tournament.
He got off to a strong start by knocking out former undisputed middleweight champion Jermain Taylor in the 12th round of their opening-round bout. Then it was all downhill for Abraham, who lost his next three tournament fights in lopsided fashion, mainly because he just didn't throw many punches. He was outclassed by Andre Dirrell in a one-sided fight that ended when Abraham was disqualified for hitting Dirrell while he was down. Then Carl Froch and Andre Ward manhandled him in blowout decisions in title bouts.
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Abraham, who won one fight outside of the tournament against a journeyman last February, will fight Saturday for the first time since being outclassed by Ward in the Super Six semifinals in May. Abraham will face Argentina's Pablo Oscar Natalio Farias (19-1, 11 KOs) in a super middleweight bout in Offenburg, Germany. Also on the card, super middleweight titlist Robert Stieglitz will defend against Henry Weber in what is supposed to be a tune-up for a spring defense against Kessler.
Abraham said he is ready to move past the tournament and was highly motivated to train through the holidays.
"I trained all the time," Abraham said. "No matter whether it was Saturday, Sunday, Christmas or New Year's Day -- I did not miss a single training session. On the days when [trainer] Ulli Wegner was not available, his assistant, Georg Bramowski, took care of me. I did not complain about the hard training. It's part of an athlete's life. It's not that bad to skip the sweets and the good food during Christmastime."
Abraham said he has put the Super Six debacle behind him.
"Well, if you lose, you get criticized," he said. "That's fine with me, and that is something you have to live with. But I am not thinking about it anymore. I have put it behind me. I am focusing on the future now. You cannot change the past. You just have to accept it and try to improve in the future. I would not say I boxed poorly or committed a lot of mistakes. I just was too passive in the fights. I have prepared well for the fight in Offenburg, but that is not any different from the last bouts. However, I will try to be more active, try to punch more."
Judah-Paris title eliminator
Main Events, which promotes Zab Judah, won a purse bid this week to promote a junior welterweight title eliminator between former titleholder Judah and Vernon Paris. The winner would become the mandatory challenger for one of the belts held by Lamont Peterson.
Main Events' winning bid was $70,110, which topped the only other bid, which was a $51,000 offer made by Don King, who promotes Paris.
As the higher-rated fighter in the IBF's rankings, Judah is entitled to 60 percent of the winning bid ($42,066), while Paris is entitled to 40 percent ($28,044).
Main Events promoter Kathy Duva told ESPN.com that she intends to make the bout the main event of her NBC Sports Net card on March 24.
"I really like the story of the young, undefeated fighter [Paris] facing the charismatic veteran in what is truly a crossroads fight for NBCSN," Duva said.
The 34-year-old Judah (41-7, 28 KOs), a former undisputed welterweight champion from New York, is also a former three-time junior welterweight titleholder. He lost his belt in July, getting knocked out in July by a body shot from Amir Khan in their unification bout. Khan then lost the belts to Peterson in December on a controversial decision.
Paris (26-0, 15 KOs), 24, of Detroit, scored the biggest win of his career in August when he knocked out Tim Coleman in the seventh round on "Friday Night Fights" in an exciting fight.
Kennedy-Martin headlines FNF
Junior featherweights Teon Kennedy (17-1-1, 7 KOs) of Philadelphia and Chris Martin (23-1-2, 6 KOs) of San Diego will square off in the main event of this week's "Friday Night Fights" (ESPN2 and ESPN3.com, 9 ET) at the Hard Rock Hotel Casino in Las Vegas. Both are in need of a victory as they try to rebound from their first career defeats.
Kennedy dropped a 12-round decision loss to Alejandro Lopez in August and Martin lost a far more surprising 10-round split decision to journeyman Jose Angel Beranza in October.
"I've wanted to fight on ESPN for such a long time," Kennedy said. "I have seen Martin on a lot of video, so I know what he's all about. I've been training really hard for this fight and am well-prepared. He has a lot of skills, but I also see a lot of mistakes that I can capitalize on. My approach is to keep the jab out there and see what he can do with it."
Martin said he has learned about Kennedy's style because he went to Mexico to spar with Lopez after he defeated Kennedy.
"I know Kennedy doesn't like a lot of pressure," Martin said. "He'll see a lot of that on Friday. The key to fighting this guy is the jab and movement. I think Kennedy's a straightforward fighter, and that's what we're working on -- lateral movement and combinations."
Welterweight prospect Yordenis Ugas (10-0, 5 KOs), a crowd-pleasing Cuban defector who was a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, will face Esteban Almaraz (10-3, 4 KOs) in the eight-round co-feature.
Also on the card in a scheduled six-rounder is Top Rank blue-chip junior featherweight prospect Jesse Magdaleno (7-0, 5 KOs) of Las Vegas against Shawn Nichol (5-7, 5 KOs). Magdaleno is the younger brother of junior lightweight contender Diego Magdaleno.
• For the past few years, Golden Boy has had an exclusive hold on all of the dates for Telefutura's "Solo Boxeo Tecate" series, but that is changing this year. The series, which has moved from Friday to Saturday nights and resumed a 90-minute format that began with the Jan. 7 season premiere, will feature multiple promoters. Although Golden Boy will remain the primary dateholder, it will have far fewer cards than last year. According to Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer, his company will promote 25 of the 42 live fight cards on the Spanish-language network this year. Last year Golden Boy had all of the live cards, plus filled in other dates with fights from its extensive library. Telefutura executives are talking to a variety of promoters. The next live card is Jan. 21 -- fights to be announced -- which will be promoted by Peter and Ivan Rivera's PR Best Boxing in Puerto Rico. Golden Boy's first show of the year is Feb. 4, headlined by junior lightweight prospect Ronny Rios (16-0, 7 KOs). The next live card after that will be a Feb. 18 show promoted by Miguel Cotto's company in Puerto Rico featuring his cousin, lightweight Abner Cotto (12-0, 5 KOs), against Guillermo Sanchez (13-4-1, 5 KOs).
• Promoter Frank Warren announced Thursday that Ricky Burns will make the first defense of his interim lightweight belt against former titleholder Paulus Moses of Namibia on March 10 at the Braehead Arena in Glasgow, Scotland, Burns' home country. "I don't think Moses will be bothered about coming to Scotland," Burns said. "He won the title in Japan [in 2009], so he'll be looking to make a big upset in Scotland against me. He's a good fighter, he's a former world champion with a good record and he's lost only once in 29 fights. This is just the kind of fight I wanted to make me perform to my best." Burns (33-2, 9 KOs) vacated his junior lightweight title, moved up to 135 pounds and won a clear decision against Michael Katsidis for the vacant interim belt. Moses (28-1, 19 KOs) has won three straight since losing his belt via sixth-round knockout to Miguel Acosta in May 2010 in Namibia. "Make no mistake, I'm coming to Scotland to win the [interim] world title by knockout," Moses said. "I've beaten better fighters than Burns before. I know I can beat him easily."
• Sacramento, Calif., middleweight prospect Brandon Gonzalez (15-0, 10 KOs) was forced to withdraw from a Jan. 20 fight against Caleb Truax (18-0-1, 10 KOs) because of a slight tear in his right hamstring. The bout was supposed to be part of a "ShoBox: The New Generation" card on Showtime headlined by junior featherweight titlist Rico Ramos' mandatory defense against interim titleholder Guillermo Rigondeaux at The Palms in Las Vegas. Virgil Hunter, the 2011 ESPN.com trainer of the year, who trains Gonzalez and fighter of the year Andre Ward, told ESPN.com that Gonzalez suffered the injury doing sprints. "And it happened on the very last lap," Hunter said. "It took him to the ground. We taped it heavily and I thought we were going to make it, but he just couldn't run, couldn't do much of anything, and then the inflammation spread to his buttocks." Hunter said the doctor advised Gonzalez would need about a month of rest and that he would probably be able to resume training in about six weeks.
• Despite signing a contract, light heavyweight Yordanis Despaigne pulled out of his Feb. 3 "Friday Night Fights" rematch against Edison Miranda. Despaigne defeated Miranda on July 29 by controversial fifth-round disqualification when referee Vic Drakulich ruled Miranda had hit Despaigne with low blows. Despaigne and Miranda agreed to a rematch, but each took an interim bout and fought Dec. 17 on the Andre Ward-Carl Froch undercard. Although Miranda knocked out Kariz Kariuki in the fifth round, Despaigne was upset by Cornelius White, losing a lopsided six-round decision. ESPN and Warriors Boxing promoter Leon Margules still planned to put on the rematch until former Cuban amateur star Despaigne (9-2, 4 KOs) pulled out this week. Miranda (35-6, 30 KOs), a former middleweight and super middleweight title challenger, will now face Isaac Chilemba (18-1-1, 9 KOs) of South Africa. The fight will be Chilemba's third in the United States in his past four.
• An undisclosed medical problem has forced junior welterweight prospect Pier-Olivier Cote to withdraw from his Feb. 3 "ShoBox" main event on Showtime against Mauricio Herrera (18-1, 7 KOs). Promoter InterBox has postponed the entire show in Quebec City and Showtime has canceled that night's boxing programming, although it hopes to air the card when InterBox reschedules. According to InterBox, Cote (18-0, 12 KOs) has been informed by his doctor that he must immediately cease training for an undetermined period of time while doctors perform a battery of tests. "We are less than a month out of the most important fight in Pier-Olivier's career and he could not train adequately in the gym," trainer Francois Duguay said. "He wasn't feeling well. I really do not want to speculate what could be wrong with him until he undergoes the necessary medical tests. The first doctor he saw told him he has to stop training and rest. Until we know more, we are following his recommendations." Cote was disappointed about postponing the bout, saying, "I was really looking forward to fighting Herrera. This is the first time in my 18 fights that such a situation arises. I will follow the recommendations of the doctor and undergo every test that I have to. My goal right now is to get better and return stronger than ever."
• Middleweight titlist Daniel Geale (26-1, 15 KOs) of Australia and mandatory challenger Osumanu Adama (20-2, 15 KOs) of Ghana came to terms and avoided a purse bid. They will meet March 7 in Hobart, the capital of the Australian island of Tasmania, where Geale originally hails from. Featherweight titlist Billy Dib (33-1, 20 KOs) is also due to make a defense on the undercard. Geale will be making his second defense. Adama became the mandatory challenger in October when he knocked out former titlist Roman Karmazin in the ninth round. If Geale wins, promoter Gary Shaw hopes to bring him to the United States for a bigger fight. "After the Adama fight, I want to bring Danny to the United States and try to do a Sergio Martinez fight or a Dmitry Pirog fight or a [Gennady] Golovkin fight," Shaw said. "In a perfect world, I'd like to do a four-man tournament."
• Former junior welterweight champ Ricky Hatton is taking over day-to-day operations of Hatton Promotions, his promotional company. Hatton has taken the title of CEO, replacing Gareth Williams, Hatton's longtime attorney, who will remain as a legal adviser. Hatton said he has recovered from the depression that hampered him following his retirement, along with a drug problem, and that he is ready for a hands-on role with the company. "This is just a structural change within the group, and Gareth will only be a phone call away for any issues we have," Hatton said in a statement. "Once I officially announced my retirement last summer, my plan was to gradually have a bigger role in our progress. My battle with depression was well-documented, and this is further evidence that I have bounced back. Gareth is a close, personal friend of mine and that will continue despite this change, and I cannot thank him enough for the job he has done apart from legal matters."
• Former junior middleweight titlist (and former undisputed welterweight champion) Cory Spinks (38-6, 11 KOs) will face Sechew Powell (26-3, 15 KOs) on Jan. 28 in Springfield, Mo., in a title eliminator that will make the winner the mandatory challenger for titlist Cornelius "K9" Bundrage (31-4, 18 KOs), who will be forced to fight one of the two opponents he defeated decisively in his past two bouts. Bundrage, who has been on the shelf for long stretches because promoter Don King hasn't lined up anything for him, easily outpointed Powell in a June title defense and blew away Spinks in five lopsided rounds in August 2010. Cruiserweight B.J. Flores (26-1-1, 16 KOs), who is from Springfield, will headline the card against an opponent to be named.
• NBC Sports Network -- formerly Versus -- announced its broadcast team for the new Main Events-promoted "Fight Night" series that debuts Jan. 21 (9 p.m. ET) in Philadelphia with former heavyweight titlist Sergei Liakhovich facing Eddie Chambers in the main event. Calling the action will be blow-by-blow man Kenny Rice, whose duties for NBC have included serving as Olympic boxing reporter and covering horse racing. Newly elected International Boxing Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach and cruiserweight B.J. Flores will serve as analysts, with Sports Illustrated boxing and NBA writer Chris Mannix serving as ringside reporter.
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• Middleweight titlist Felix Sturm (36-2-2, 15 KOs) has retained his belt on controversial decisions in his past two fights, first a split decision against Matthew Macklin in June (in a fight widely viewed as one of the worst decisions of the year) and then in a split draw against Martin Murray in December (a fight for which many believed Sturm deserved the decision). Sturm wouldn't give Macklin a rematch -- Macklin wound up with something better, a March 17 shot against recognized champ Sergio Martinez -- and he hasn't shown interest in fighting Murray again. But England's Murray would like a rematch, and he is willing to go back to Germany to get it. Sturm is tentatively slated to fight April 13. "Felix has been a great champion, but both me and him know that night in Mannheim he did not beat me," Murray said in an open letter to Sturm. "Felix cannot beat me. He knows I am the better fighter, and so I am not expecting him to offer me a rematch. I don't think that the Sturm team [is] confident that you can win this one, and as a result they and you will avoid me. Please be fair to yourself, to me and the German people who have supported you to get this fight on. ... I won't ask for silly money, just give me a fair price. I will even come to your own city of Cologne and bring double the fans I did last time."
• Bantamweight titlist Jorge Arce (59-6-2, 45 KOs) is due to face Lorenzo Parra (31-3-1, 18 KOs) on Feb. 18 in Mexico, a rematch of their September 2010 draw in a junior featherweight title eliminator. However, the WBO may decline to sanction the fight, meaning Arce would have to look for a new opponent. ... Hot Puerto Rican prospects Thomas Dulorme (13-0, 10 KOs), a welterweight, and Jonathan Gonzalez (14-0, 13 KOs), a junior middleweight, will fight in separate bouts against opponents to be determined on the Feb. 17 edition of Showtime's "ShoBox: The New Generation" at the Chumash resort in Santa Ynez, Calif., according to Gary Shaw, who co-promotes both. ... The IBF has set a Jan. 24 deadline for a purse bid on the vacant welterweight title bout between Mike Jones and Randall Bailey, if the sides don't make a deal before then. ... Lightweight contender Kevin Mitchell of England was supposed to face Stephen Ormond on Feb. 10 in London, but Ormond withdrew. Promoter Frank Warren is looking for a replacement to face Mitchell (32-1, 24 KOs), who rebounded from a knockout loss to Michael Katsidis (and dealt with a drinking problem) to stop John Murray in the eighth round of a rousing battle in July. ... According to PR Best Boxing Promotions, former strawweight and junior flyweight champion Ivan "Iron Boy" Calderon (35-2-1, 6 KOs) of Puerto Rico will challenge strawweight titlist Moises Fuentes (14-1, 6 KOs) of Mexico for his old belt, likely in April.
"Khan blames everyone and everything but his performance and lack of ability to make adjustments in the ring for his loss. He claims that the ring announcer privately stated he won, then that the referee's discretionary actions [of two-point deductions for pushing] should be overruled, then a mystery man in a black hat with no association to the Peterson camp somehow affected the outcome of the bout, and also that the judges did not score the bout correctly. Each claim is boldly false, but because Golden Boy and Khan have the financial resources to file protests and lawyers to create questionable accusations, we are forced to address these issues. We will not let these foul tactics take away from Lamont's hard work, dedication and monumental victory."
-- Barry Hunter, manager, trainer and father figure to junior welterweight titlist Lamont Peterson, on his disgust for the ongoing complaints and protests of Amir Khan and promoter Golden Boy since Khan's Dec. 10 loss to Peterson
"As I have done throughout my entire career, I will go up a notch for this fight. Sergio is going to bring the best out of me, and I am very confident in my mind that I will be the new middleweight champion come March 17. Fighting at the Garden on St. Patty's Day, it's going to be like I'm fighting in Dublin. The Irish are coming from all over the world to see this. The atmosphere is going to be electric."
-- Middleweight contender Matthew Macklin, at a news conference this week in New York to formally announce his HBO fight against champion Sergio Martinez at the Madison Square Garden Theater
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at danrafaelespn.
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