Tim-Robin Lihaug (15-1, 8 KOs) says he is ready to send his boxing idol Arthur Abraham (44-5, 29 KOs) into retirement on July 16 when the super middleweights square off at the Max-Schmeling-Halle in Berlin.
In what will be his toughest career assignment, Lihaug will go toe-to-toe with the former two-weight World Champion, a man who inspired the Norwegian fighter’s early career and whose poster hung from his bedroom wall.
‘’Abraham was one of my idols when I started boxing,’’ reveals the 23 year-old. ‘’I even had a poster of him on my wall. He’s been a great champion for many years and has achieved so much in this sport – it will be an honour to share the ring with him.’’
Having landed a dream fight with his one-time idol, Lihaug knows there is no room for sentiment. Abraham is coming off the back of a World title loss to Gilberto Ramirez and another defeat could signal the end of his illustrious career.
‘’I don’t think Abraham is the same fighter he was a few years ago, and I’m very confident I can win,’’ he says. ‘’I was a little shocked when the opportunity came, but it didn’t take me long to start thinking that this is a guy I can beat.
‘’To be in a position to fight him shows I have been doing something right in my career, and it has given me a big motivation boost. I know if I beat Abraham, it will take me to the top level overnight and give me a chance to fight for a World title.’’
While Lihaug believes Abraham has suffered a drop in form in recent years, he is taking nothing for granted against the German boxing great.
‘’I will be preparing for the best Abraham possible,’’ he explains. ‘’He may not be at the absolute highest level anymore, but he is still World-class. He is a guy that I’m going to have to be in my best shape ever to beat, and I am, so I think it will be a great fight, and I’m looking forward to it. I feel calm, relaxed and ready to go.’’
Lihaug, who has established himself as the country’s premier professional boxer following impressive performances against domestic rivals Simen Smaadal and Arne Ernstsen, will be counting on the support of the Norwegian public.
‘’There is a lot of interest in this fight back home and everybody is hoping I win,’’ he says. ‘’I feel like I have the whole country behind me, and I know there will be a lot of people travelling to Berlin to watch the fight. It will be a proud moment if I win, and a great achievement for Norway and for Norwegian boxing.’’