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Abraham vs. Ayala This Saturday

By Manuel Perez: Undefeated IBF middleweight champion Arthur Abraham (25-0, 20 Kos) puts his title and unbeaten record on the line this Saturday night when he goes up against American Elvin Ayala (18-2-1, 8 Kos) at the Sparkassen-Arena, in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Abraham, 28, is making his seventh defense of his IBF title which he won in 2005 with a victory over Kinglsey Ikeke. Originally from Armenia and now living and fighting out of Germany, Abraham is known mostly for fighting mainly in Germany against European fighters, somehow avoiding American middleweights like Jermain Tayor, Kelly Pavlik and Winky Wright, to name just a few. For this reason, Abraham has received a lot of criticism in the boxing world from fans and writers alike who don’t understand his reasoning behind fighting mainly European fodder.

The one time in which Abraham broke away briefly from his European-only regimen is when he fought the knockout artist Edison Miranda in September 2006, the bout – fought in Germany – ending with Abraham winning by a very controversial 12-round unanimous decision. If not for Miranda being penalized an incredible five points by the referee, Abraham would have been soundly beaten. As it was, even with the point deductions, Miranda still appeared to have won the bout. Regrettably, after the fight with Miranda, Abraham has gone back to fighting exclusively European fighters.

Though Ayala, 27, isn’t from European extraction, his #15 ranking in the IBF, goes with Abraham’s practice of fighting the softest opposition possible. Ayala has had mostly limited experience against quality fighters, only having fought former star from The Contender series Sergio Mora, whom he fought to a draw with in October 2007. That’s a fairly admirable achievement, but given the fact that Mora isn’t what I consider to be a championship fighter, it means much less than what some people think it does. Mora seemed to be overlooking Ayala and fought in an almost distracted style, as if he didn’t have his mind into the fight. Ayala does have some talent in terms of his offensive skills – a good right hand and left hook – but his defense is sorely lacking. Abraham will probably find it easy to hit him with combinations and very likely take him out in short order unless Ayala has learned how to defend himself since his last fight.

Ayala, if he has any chance at winning against Abraham, it’s if he’s aware enough to catch him when he comes inside. Abraham has a tendency to come running in on his opponents, similar to the way that Michael Katsidis did last Saturday night against Joel Casamayor. The difference here, though, is that Abraham shoots piston-like punches straight ahead as he runs forward, where as Katsidis tends to throw more wider shots.

Abraham’s sloppy, amateurish attacks leave him just as vulnerable to counter shots as he’s coming in. Perhaps the only reason he hasn’t paid for it up to this point is largely because of his lower quality opposition that he’s gone up against. Believe me, if Abraham uses that style of fighting against Pavlik, Taylor, or Wright, he’ll pay for it every time and likely get knocked out. This is why I see him losing when/if he fights one of them. Heck, even the younger middleweight prospects like Pat Quillin, Joe Greene and Daniel Jacobs would eat Abraham up if they were went up against him.

I see all of them as better than Abraham. Ayala, though, won’t likely be able to handle Abraham’s offensive firepower and I fully expect this to end in an early knockout. I’m hoping I’m wrong about this because I’d like for this to be a competitive fight but I see Ayala as being too limited to make it though the whole fight without being stopped by Abraham. Anything is possible but given his limited experience against quality opponents, I see Abraham as being too big a step up for him to handle. The good news is that after Ayala, Abraham is expected to fight in the U.S. against a top middleweight fighter. I’ll believe that when I see it.

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