Germany's obsession with adopting fighters from the former Eastern Bloc countries has revitalised German boxing and bored the rest of us senseless. If you like watching the latest Klitschko victim receive death by a thousand jabs then the last 10 years has been a golden age for you.
If you like the sport of boxing however, it's been dull beyond belief. But there's a little Armenian man fighting out of Berlin who always keeps things interesting. On Saturday night he returns to the ring having gone through something of a dip in form and the tough Pole Piotr Wilczewski challenges him for his European super middleweight title.
There was a time when Arthur Abraham was one of the baddest men in boxing. In his American TV debut in 2008 he fought through the pain of a jaw cracked in two places and repeated head butts against the murderous Colombian slugger Edison Miranda to win a decision. It seemed to the American audience that they were in the presence of a Gatti or LaMotta – one of those throwback fighters, carved from granite with an unbreakable will to win.
A dominant performance in the Super 6 tournament against Jermain Taylor concluding with a crushing 12th round knockout confirmed that this was one of the most dangerous men in the middle divisions.
The problem for Abraham is that he only knows one way to fight: move forward with a high guard in a straight line and throw hard punches. This worked very effectively for him against decent middleweight opposition, but against the super middleweight elite it's been found sadly lacking.
Three consecutive defeats in the Super 6 to Andre Dirrell, Carl Froch and Andre Ward followed the Taylor victory. Against an awkward rangy guy who takes a good shot like Froch, Abraham looked silly and lost every second of every round. Likewise his loss against Andre Ward felt like an exhibition bout. These weren't just losses, they were damaging exposés of the limitations of his style
His opponent Piotr Wilczewski is probably best known for pushing James DeGale hard in his first fight after the George Groves loss, the Pole losing a majority decision. He is a technically sound pressure fighter who closes down the ring well and works smartly behind his jab. We know that Arthur Abraham has the power to make all this irrelevant. If he catches Wilczewski square he's in a world of trouble.
But can Wilczewski knock Abraham out? Sure he can – around the same time Audley Harrison takes out both the Klitschkos on the same night. They say "never say never", well I'm saying never. Not in a million years does a guy with a 31% knockout ratio take out Abraham who has a mechanical digger bucket for a jaw. Wilczewski tacitly acknowledges as much, saying “As long as the fight is going the distance and the judges are objective, I will be the winner.”
Objective judges in Germany? You've got to love an optimist because if there's one thing boxing history teaches us it's that judges in Germany don't show the guests much love. If this goes to the scorecards, don't expect the Pole to get any favours.
Nonetheless, with Abraham’s aura of invincibility now thoroughly shattered and with Carl Froch and Andre Ward in particular offering a ready-made blueprint for beating him, Wilczewski is a very live underdog here. The history of German judging doesn't mean Wilczewski can't win, just that a close fight is likely to go to Abraham, who is 1.22 to win.
We've already seen how height and reach disadvantages caused Abraham horrible problems against Froch and Ward. It's in Wilczewski’s advantage to make this a range war and keep the dangerous Abraham at the end of his jab.
The way to neutralise a good jab is with movement and speed and Abraham is not blessed abundantly with either of them. I suspect King Arthur is on a steady decline so I'm recommending Wilczewski to pull off the upset at 4.0. But remember: if there's some German hometown cooking on the scorecards don't be a sauerkraut. Them's the breaks, my friends.