Another controversial decision was expected at the 02 World Arena in Germany this evening, except there was no controversy, just a definitive winner.
Since the first battle between WBO Super Middleweight champion Arthur Abraham (42-4, 28 KOs) and British challenger Paul Smith (35-5, 20 KOs) came to a sour conclusion, the rematch should have finally eradicated all the suspicion of wrongdoing, which began to circulate when the pair last met that fateful September night.
Luckily that is exactly what happened. It was not another contentious decision in Germany, as the reigning WBO Super Middleweight king, Arthur Abraham put on a stellar display en route to claiming another points victory over the game challenger Paul Smith.
The opening rounds saw a very positive start from Smith, who established his jab very early on. Just like the first fight, Abraham was beginning to fight in spurts, using his fantastic defense to frustrate the eager Smith.
Both men battled it out to control the center of the ring as Abraham evidently started to relax. The man from Liverpool showed an impressive array of counterpunching ability as Abraham failed to land on the evasive challenger.
The 35-year-old’s sledgehammer jab made an appearance in the next two rounds. A solid right hand wobbled Smith, then the champion began to operate like a surgeon.
To Smith’s credit though, he fired back at every available opportunity, but it was Abraham’s relentless assaults that were starting to pay dividends.
Smith could not find the answer for Abraham’s solid jab, as his face started to redden considerably.
The 32-year-old Brit did not give up though and landed a heavy body shot of his own, which seemed to slightly hurt Abraham, who backed into a corner, not throwing another punch for the remainder of the sixth round.
Going down the stretch, it was clear that both men were feeling the pace. Smith continued to aim for the body of the champion while Abraham was very effective with his eye-catching punches in bunches.
The captivating showdown continued to ebb and flow, a stark contrast from their technical first bout, still it was becoming even more apparent that the rugged Armenian was putting severe pressure on Smith, who himself was having some success yet was looking sluggish.
A cracking right hand buckled Smith’s legs again in the ninth, for the first time it appeared that Smith might not make the final bell.
The heroic Englishman tried to detail a possessed Abraham who was looking like the fighter from old, but was shaken again late on in the round.
Joe Gallagher attempted to re-infuse his charge in the championship rounds, which worked to an extent as Abraham was taking a breather. Still, it was the champion who was looking so strong when he chose to engage.
For Smith though, the snap in his punches had all but gone, all was left was his gigantic heart as the final bell sounded.
A deserved winner Arthur Abraham earned a unanimous decision victory with no controversy and with scores of 116-112, 117-111 and 117-111.
A defiant Smith agreed with the judges’ scorecards, the loss in September though still clearly haunts him.
“I believe I beat him the first fight but that’s gone now. I felt I left it all in their tonight and I’m not leaving with any regrets” said Smith.
“I will never ever be happy with 2nd place, I’ve been brought up that way, but no one likes losing, it just wasn’t to be tonight, I didn’t win that fight tonight.”
Obviously, Smith was understandably devastated, as he may have just witnessed his final shot at an iconic world title disappear before his very eyes.
Having said that, the Liverpudlian has claimed a moral victory for his two valiant efforts against a top class operator in his own back yard, but he was simply beaten by the better man on the night.
As we all know, Smith’s moral victory simply doesn’t pay the bills, therefore, he is now left to ponder his very own future in the sport he once lived for.
Does Paul Smith still have a future at the elite level of the Super Middleweight division? Maybe.
There were also wins for the other travelling Brits on the bill, as Liverpool Heavyweight David Price continued on his road to recovery by knocking out Irineu Costa Junior in the sixth round of what could only be described as a measured performance.
In addition, Super Featherweight Josh Warrington steamed to a fifth round blitz against his limited opponent Edwin Tellez, to continue on his raise to the top.
Nevertheless, it is refreshing that the topic of conversation is not surrounding the controversial subject of German scoring, which for so long was deemed the elephant in the room.
Although I do not doubt that the German scoring debate will raise its ugly head in the not so distant future, tonight there was no sign of a travesty just a convincing end to a captivating duel.
If only boxing was this black and white.