In an article about the British super middleweights a few weeks ago I stated that I believed Paul Smith Jnr could beat Arthur Abraham because the King was getting older and was ready to cede his crown.
My conviction was a departure from popular opinion though. The majority of experts didn’t give Paul Smith a punchers chance of seeing the final bell never mind sealing the WBO title on enemy territory. Abraham’s impotent display told us he also thought he was in for an easy pay day.
Yet any designs Abraham had on a quick finish were exposed as delusions as Smith weathered an early storm and asserted himself to the point where he so nearly ripped up the script. Smith’s rousing comeback in the second half of the fight was in stark contrast to Abraham’s benign performance in the latter stages of the contest.
Just as many thought Abraham was going to be humbled on home soil, the judges spared his blushes to leave Smith heartbroken. Regardless of the validity of the final result, the ridiculous judging bias was enough to leave Smith and the British fans bemused.
However, after Paul Smith has swallowed the bitter pill of defeat he will be proud of his performance on the big stage. Despite being badly beaten in both his attempts to step up in class against George Groves and James De Gale, Smith proved beyond doubt that he belonged in the same ring as Abraham. Lest we forget, Abraham is the veteran of 19 world title fights and has fought the top names from 160-168lb throughout his career.
Smith found a new level last Saturday night and in spite of the spirit crushing defeat his assured display will see him get at least one more shot at the elite. After his performance he certainly deserves it.
Smith deserved of another chance
Far from Smith being the sacrificial lamb it was nearly Abraham who got skewered. Yet it threatened to be very different as Abraham looked like the boss in the opening exchanges against Smith. On reflection of the 1st few rounds, I felt that Abraham would eventually turn the screw and close out in the fight at some stage.
However, despite the early warnings, the storm never came. Instead the tide turned in Smith’s favour in the second half of the fight. Suddenly it was Abraham who was entering deep water.
If Abraham was tiring towards the end then Smith was indefatigable, fighting every minute of every round and forcing the action against Abraham, who was reduced to throwing sporadic flurries.
Although to say Smith was winning rounds simply due to his superior levels of activity would be to distort the truth and betray the actual nature of the bout. Aside from being the busier man, Smith seized the centre of the ring, controlled the distance with his beautiful double jab and dictated the tempo of the fight whilst peppering Abraham with punishing body shots.
Of course Abraham had his moments of dominance but they were far too sporadic to deter Smith.
The only thing missing
The caveat to Smith’s precocious display was that although Abraham was struggling to cope with the pace, it was clear he would not crumble. Smith would have to do something miraculous to pull off a memorable win.
The double jab, right hook to the body combination was the key to victory for Smith and one minor criticism is that he maybe didn’t throw it with enough frequency when he had Abraham backed up on the ropes.
Still it is easy for me to say that from the sofa, and it is entirely understandable why Smith didn’t want to go for broke against Abraham. After all, he is a boxer who has cultivated the reputation of being able to absorb his opponent’s best shots before dishing out his own bloody retribution.
I had Smith one point ahead going into the 12th, although I felt he needed to have a big final round in order to fashion a victory on foreign soil. Personally, I scored the fight as a draw. Ultimately my prediction that Smith would win didn’t materialise, although my opinion that Abraham is ready to abdicate the throne seems to be true.
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