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GUEST ARTICLE: Eubank Jnr v Abraham – PPV Value For Money Shocker!

By Paul Mason (@KOBoxingSets)

This Saturday, ITV Sports Box Office offers a pay per view worthy card in my opinion, as Chris Eubank Junior defends the lightly regarded IBO Super Middleweight Title against a man coming to the end of his career in German based Armenian, Arthur Abraham. Poxon Sports promote the bill. The bigger carat at stake here, is a place in the upcoming World Boxing Super Series, where opportunity really knocks, and a quarter final fight with the Turk, Avni Yildirim .

Here I preview a stacked card:

 

Chris Eubank Junior (24-1, KO19) v Arthur Abraham (46-5, KO30),  For The IBO Super Middleweight Title

The preview for this fight is taken from my article from early June when the fight was announced.

 

The 37 year old Abraham is a 51 fight veteran (46-5, KO30), and is certainly in the twilight of his career. The matchup is obviously seen as a way of putting a big name on Eubank’s resume, in order for him to be considered a big player in the division. I can only imagine that relatively big money has been thrown Abraham’s way, as only six of his paid contests have taken place outside Germany, and I wouldn’t imagine he would leave home comforts easily.

 

Abraham became the IBF Middleweight Champion in his 19th contest, knocking out Kingsley Ikeke in five rounds in 2005. He made ten successful defences of the belt over a four year period, before moving up in weight to take part in the massive Showtime Super Six Super Middlweight Tournament. After a chilling twelfth and final round knockout against a declining Jermain Taylor in his first group match in Berlin, the wheels started to come off for Abraham, and he was exposed in his next two fights. The first was a trip to Detroit to take on Andre Dirrell, who had been tightly outpointed by Britain’s Carl Froch for the WBC Title in his first group match. Abraham was anonymous from the off, and was knocked down for the first time in his career in the fourth. He was also cut over his right eye, and well behind on points, when, in the eleventh round, slick spot in the corner of the ring caused Dirrell to slip to one knee. While down, Abraham delivered a punch to the chin of Dirrell. A delayed reaction was followed by Dirrell lying on the ground, unconscious and shaking. The referee disqualified Abraham for and awarded Dirrell a victory. Some critics thought that Dirrell may have overreacted after Abraham’s final punch, and this has further been enhanced after the events of Dirrell’s contest with Jose Uzcategui a few weeks ago, when the same thing happened.

 

Abraham’s next assignment was to challenge Carl Froch for the vacant WBC Super Middleweight Title in Helsinki, Finland. Froch put on a clinic, winning every round on two judges’ scorecards to thrash Abraham, exposing his tendency to be out boxed at the highest level. After a time marking win over Stjepan Bozic, Abraham was again trounced on the cards in the Semi Finals of the Super Six against the gifted Andre Ward, again losing widely to make it three losses in four fights. Arguably Abraham hasn’t been the same fighter since the Super Six. Although he captured the WBO Super Middleweight Title by out pointing Robert Stieglitz in 2012, he was stopped in four rounds six months later in a rematch. He regained the crown again three fights later by beating Stieglitz via split decision in March 2014. After beating Nikola Sjekloca, Abraham scored back to back wins over Liverpool’s Paul Smith. Robert Stieglitz was beaten once and for all via sixth round stoppage, before he held on to the Title by beating Martin Murray on a split decision. Abraham then made a step up by meeting the highly touted Gilberto Ramirez in Las Vegas. Abraham was again heavily beaten, losing every round on all three cards. He has since rebounded with low key wins against Tim Robin Lihaug (TKO8) and last time out against perennial gate keeper Robin Krasniqi (Unanimous), nothing that Eubank will lose sleep over.

 

Eubank Junior (24-1, KO19) on the other hand turned pro in 2011 after limited amateur experience, and was subsequently brought through the ranks on a diet of mainly journeymen, until in his nineteenth fight where he met Billy Joe Saunders for the British, Commonwealth and European Middleweight Titles in London in 2014. Junior started far too slowly and was left chasing the fight. This would be to his cost as he was squeezed out by a split decision. He then rebounded with possibly his best performance to date, a last session stoppage of the previously unbeaten Dimitri Chudinov in what was to be his last fight under the Frank Warren banner. He then joined forces with Matchroom and Eddie Hearn and farcically claimed the “Interim” WBA Middleweight title, stopping the hapless Tony Jeter in four. He then ended 2015 with a win over Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan (retirement).

 

Tragedy followed in his next fight, as he stopped the overly game and tough Nick Blackwell for the British Middleweight Title, who after the fight slipped into a coma and would be forced to retire. Eubank  then stopped Tom Doran in his first defence of the title, this time on the Joshua v Breazeale bill.

 

I envisage Eubank looking good in this one, either by late stoppage, or a wide points win, as Abraham will not like the heat that Eubank will likely put on him for large periods of the fight.

 

Lee Selby (24-1, KO9) v Jonathan Victor Barros (41-4-1, KO22) For The IBF Featherweight Title

 

If ever a big show stealing performance was needed, then Lee Selby’s third defence of his IBF Featherweight crown is just that. Selby has moved away from the Matchroom and Eddie Hearn stable, and is now essentially a freelance fighter, and appears on this bill to defend against a man who robbed him of a dream bout in Las Vegas last year. His opponent is Jonathan Victor Barros, a former WBA champion at Featherweight.

 

Although Selby is a World Champion, he is still one of Britain’s brightest prospects and has stalled somewhat in the last year following a few fights that he has missed out on.

 

The Welshman turned professional in 2008 to little fanfare, beating tough journeyman Sid Razak on points over four rounds. Four fights later, he suffered the only defeat on his slate when the awkward Samir Mouneimne outpointed him over six rounds at Fenton Manor in Stoke. This has since turned out to be the making of Selby. After six straight wins on the comeback trail, picking up both Welsh and Celtic Titles, he was catapulted into a challenge for the British and Commonwealth Title on a Matchroom promoted show. He wasn’t expected to win against the touted Stephen Smith at the Olympia, in Smith’s hometown of Liverpool. Selby turned in what remains one of his best performacnces in dazzling Smith, eventually finishing matters with a crunching counter left hand in the eighth round.

 

Selby followed this performance with stoppage wins over John Simpson and Patrick Okine, aswell as soundly outpointing Martin Lindsay in Belfast. He then handed the unbeaten Viorel Simion his first defeat at Hull KR’s Craven Park Stadium. In a harder than expected battle, Selby learned a lot against the tough Romanian, winning on the cards in a ranking builder with the WBC. Ryan Walsh was beaten on points at the 02 Arena, before Selby picked up the European crown by stopping former World Title challenger, Rendall Munroe in six rounds. Further wins against Romulo Koasicha (UD) and Joel Brunker (TKO) finally set up a shot at the World Title. This was to be against the respected IBF Featherweight Champion, Evgeny Gradovich on the Kell Brook v Frankie Gavin undercard at the 02. Selby produced a dazzling display, winning via a technical decision on the scorecards after eight completed rounds, due to a bad cut sustained by Gradovich.

He then aligned with Al Haymon, as his advisor, and made his US debut against the former Super Flyweight and Bantamweight World Champion, Fernando Montiel. Again this was a tougher than expected bout for Selby, and he eventually came through on the cards. His next assignment was back at the 02, defending against the American hope, Eric Hunter on the Joshua v Martin undercard. Selby was put down for the first time in his career, before negotiating his way to a unanimous points win. Then came the Barros initial disappointment. Selby was due to defend against Barros on the Frampton v Santa Cruz bill in Las Vegas in January this year. But this opportunity was snatched away from him at the very last minute. The decision was announced on stage before Friday’s weigh-in in Las Vegas, just over 24 hours before the fight was meant to take place. The Nevada Athletic Commission did not give an explanation other than the Argentine had not met its requirements, leaving Selby distraught. This left Selby to serve Eddie Hearn his notice in a specially sanctioned by the IBF stoppage win over Andoni Gago on the Haye v Bellew undercard in March.

Argentine Jonathan Victor Barros was unbeaten as far as his 30th fight after turning over in 2004, with his only blemish coming in a split decision draw against the vastly experienced Victor Hugo Paz in his sixteenth fight in 2006. Barros has avenged the defeat twice since (UD & TKO). His unbeaten run came to an end in a points defeat challenging Yuriorkis Gamboa for the WBA Featherweight Title in March 2010. Three fights later he captured the vacant belt by knocking out Irving Berry in seven one sided rounds in Mendoza, Argentina. After squeezing past Celestino Caballero via split decision, he was unanimously defeated by the same man just three months later. Since that defeat, Barros has only hovered over the periphery of World class.

After a comeback win over Gustavo Bermudez (UD) Barros suffered back to back defeats. He challenged for the IBF version of the World Crown, but came up short, losing unanimously to Juan Carlos Salgado in Mexico. Then followed an eighth round stoppage defeat at the hands of rising star, Mikey Garcia, the current WBC Lightweight Champion.

Barros has since rebuilt with seven straight wins, six in his native Argentina, before earning his crack at Selby by defeating Satoshi Hasono in Tokyo via split decision in October last year.

There were rumours that something had come back not quite right with Barros’ blood when the fight was called off in January, however, this must now be all clear as the IBF have been more than happy to keep Barros as their number one contender.

Selby needs an impressive performance following a frustrating reign as champion, and I believe he will channel the frustration of missing out in Las Vegas, into punishing Barros. I predict a mid to late stoppage for the man from the valleys.

The undercard features some top prospects. Robbie Davies Jnr (15-0) attempts to enhance his lofty ranking with the WBA, when he defends his continental Super Lightweight Title against Poland’s Michal Syrowatka (18-1).

 

Kid Galahad (22-0) gets replacement opposition following the forced cancellation of original opponent Denis Ceylan, the European Super Bantamweight Champion, due to the Dane failing a drug test for Cocaine earlier this year. Galahad is no stranger to bans for banned substances himself, and Jose Cayetano (21-5) steps in to replace Ceylan. Cayetano has lost to the likes of Leo Santa Cruz and Scott Quigg, and I can see him at least taking Galahad the distance.

 

There is also a British Title on the line as Martin J Ward (17-0-2) makes the third defence of his British Title, as well as challenging for the Commonwealth Crown against Anthony “The Apache” Cacace (15-0)

 

All in all it’s a good looking card for the fans, and hopefully there will be some thrilling fights to make the show and platform a success.

 

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