Held in Berlin, Germany and live on Sky Sports 3 from 20:00 on Saturday, Liverpudlian Paul Smith takes on Arthur Abraham in a rematch for the Armenian’s WBO Super Middleweight title, while later in the evening, on Channel 5 from 22:00, Britain’s Martin Murray faces the man dubbed the hardest hitter in boxing, WBA Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin.
Abraham v Smith 2 Tale of the Tape
Abraham: 41 -4 (28 KO) Pro Record
Nicknamed ‘King Arthur,’ Arthur Abraham is a 34-year-old Armenian that fights out of Germany. After winning various Armenian titles as an amateur boxer, Abraham turned pro in 2003, winning the IBF middleweight title in his 19th bout.
Making eleven successful defences of his title, Abraham then moved up to super middleweight to compete in the ‘Super Six’ tournament, which was a round-robin competition designed to eventually crown the best fighter at that weight.
Losing on the scorecards to former undisputed middleweight champion Jermain Taylor heading into the 12th and final round of their bout, Abraham pulled off a stunning knockout to win his first Super Six match.
However, a disqualification loss to former Olympian Andre Dirrell followed, before Abraham was convincingly beaten by Carl Froch in a bout for the then vacant WBC title. Andre Ward – now considered to be the second best fighter in the world – then easily outboxed the Armenian to successfully defend his WBA title and end ‘King Arthur’s’ participation in the tournament.
Abraham recovered to win the WBO Super Middleweight a few fights later – defeating fellow German Robert Stieglitz on points – to become a two-weight world champion. Heartbreak followed, though, as after one defence of his new title, Abraham lost the rematch to Stieglitz after the referee adjudged that he couldn’t continue beyond the fourth round with a grotesquely swollen eye.
A determined man, Abraham clearly won the rubber match with Stieglitz by a scorecard verdict. A heavy betting favourite, Abraham then defended his title against Britain’s Paul Smith.
Smith: 35 -4 (19 KO) Pro Record
Part of the Smith family who so frequently appear on Sky Sports – be it in the ring or as annalists – Paul Smith won an ABA title as an amateur, along with a Silver medal in the 2002 Commonwealth games.
Signing with Frank Warren in the pro ranks, Smith quickly amassed a 23-0 undefeated record, winning the English middleweight title along the way. Smith, however, immediately lost that title to Steven Bendall, beating low quality opposition in his next six fights.
A big step up in class then followed, as the Liverpudlian lost by KO/TKO to up-and-comers James Degale and George Groves. Without intentionally being unkind, 32-year-old Paul Smith cannot therefore be ranked as much more than a mid-level veteran journeyman who’s not a world class fighter.
Perhaps with this in mind, Smith was granted a WBO Super Middleweight title shot against reigning champion Abraham.
Abraham v Smith 1
Held at the Sparkasen Arena, Germany, in September Paul Smith fought admirably against Arthur Abraham, going the full 12 rounds in what was a very close fight. There were no knockdowns in the bout and most ringside observers thought that Abraham would likely be given the verdict by one or two rounds prior to the decision being announced, but Abraham was given a unanimous points win, with two judges scoring the bout 117-11 and one 119-109.
While it wouldn’t have been a major surprise if the bout had been declared a draw, there was immediate outrage in the Smith camp and amongst boxing experts, particularly with the 119-109 card of Fernando Laguna, which suggested that Smith only won one round.
The WBO chairman, Paco Valcarcel, eventually surmised that, at the very least, Laguna’s scorecard was way off the mark, ordering a rematch.
Abraham v Smith 2 Betting
Defending champion Abraham is offered around 2/7 and challenger Smith is available at 15/4. In terms of method of victory, Abraham is available at 13/8 to win by KO/TKO or DQ and 5/4 to win on points, while Smith is 6/1 to win by KO/TKO/DQ or 11/2 to win on points.
The Abraham v Smith 2 Betting Verdict
Abraham only has one way of fighting – using a high guard and plodding forward looking to unload heavy shots – while Smith is probably the better technical boxer. Now, Smith does have a chance of causing an upset because his opponent is past his prime and one-dimensional, but I would assume that the Liverpudlian is sensible enough to go for the knockout as history strongly suggests that he won’t be given the points verdict in adopted Armenian-German Abraham’s back yard.
Of course, It could be a smokescreen, but Smith’s trainer has spoken along the same lines and the fighter himself has promised to be more ‘open’ with his shots and look to land heavy punches early rather than box from a distance in the early rounds, while Abraham – who cannot understand the uproar caused by the first fight – has promised to go for the knockout from the start.
As such, and while it wouldn’t be a shock to see Abraham win on points again – but in a conclusive manner this time – my betting recommendation is to select the ‘No’ option in the ‘Will the Fight go the Distance?’ market.
Finally, I’ll tell you which are which, but some boxing bets are better than others and this one is a medium level bet, nothing more.
Worth a punt: Will the Fight go the Distance? No at even money (2.0)
Golovkin v Murray Tale of the Tape
Golovkin: 31-0 (28 KO) Pro Record
After compiling an amateur record of 345 wins and a mere five defeats, the Kazakhstan-born fighter of Russian-Korean descent has destroyed everyone in his path as a professional and is currently riding an 18-fight knockout streak.
Nicknamed ‘GGG’ and named the Ring magazine’s ‘Fighter of the Year’ in 2013, Golovkin has an overall knockout average of 90.32%, easily stopping Mathew Macklin, Marca Rubio and, most impressively, former two-time world champion Daniel Geale in recent fights.
Often compared to notable hard-hitters of the past like Mike Tyson, Julian Jackson and Gerald McClellan, Golovkin is considered to be the hardest hitter currently in boxing.
Murray: 29-1-1 (12 KO) Pro Record
Born in St Helens, England, Martin Murray had a stop-start amateur career spanning 14 years, in which he won an ABA title at welterweight. Turning pro at an uncommonly late age of 25, Murray won the fourth Prizefighter tournament in England, later signing with Ricky Hatton promotions.
A number of relatively easy wins followed, before the St Helens man defeated Peter Mitrevska for the then vacant Commonwealth middleweight title in July 2010. A year later, Murray added the British title to his trophy cabinet after beating Nick Blackwell via a fifth round retirement.
Murray was then granted a world title shot against the WBA champion Felix Sturm in Germany. Winning a close fight on most ringside observers and pundit’s scorecards, the bout was, however, declared a draw.
If anything, this result increased Murray’s standing within the middleweight ranks, as Germany is notorious for scoring bouts in the home fighter’s favour and this was further evidence of that. Two relatively easy wins followed for Murray, before he was granted his second career world title shot, against the man considered to be the best middleweight on the planet at the time, Sergio Martinez.
Twice knocking his opponent down and doing enough to be given the verdict, Murray was again denied a world title win after the Buenos Aries judges scored in the Argentinean fighters favour. So, arguably, Murray should still be undefeated and a world champion.
Now promoted by the South African company Golden Gloves, Murray has since won four bouts and faces his biggest challenge to date in Golovkin.
Golovkin v Murray Betting
Defending champion Golovkin is offered around 1/16 and challenger Murray is available at 10/1. In terms of method of victory, GGG is available at 1/6 by KO/TKO or DQ and 7/1 to win on points, while Murray is 22/1 to win by KO/TKO/DQ or 25/1 to win on points.
The Golovkin v Murray Betting Verdict
Of course, with GGG’s punching power and ability to cut the ring off and stalk his opponent down, you’d expect him to emerge victorious by KO or TKO, but at 1/8 there’s no way I’m betting on such an outcome. Instead, and while It’s a risky play that’ll make for uncomfortable viewing, I’ve had a small bet on the bout lasting more than 6.5 rounds.
Why? Well, Golovkin himself has commented on how he could do with going the full 12 rounds for sake of experience, while Murray has never been dropped or stopped in his professional boxing career. Certainly, Murray has yet to face someone of Golovkin’s punching power, but the British fighter is the bigger man and not one to panic under pressure, so I’m prepared to take a chance on him taking the champ into the later rounds.
As with the Abraham v Smith 2 bet, however, I’ve only taken a medium sized punt.
Worth a punt: Over 6.5 Total Rounds @ 4/5