In less than a week, Arthur Abraham wants to defend his title against Nikola Sjekloca. In this interview, the prodigy of coach Ulli Wegner talks about his quick return to the squared circle and what he thinks about a possible fourth match up with compatriot Robert Stieglitz.
We also have a Q&A with Sjekloca, as well.
Arthur Abraham Interview
Only two months ago, you won back the WBO Super Middleweight World Championship from Robert Stieglitz. You will defend that title on May 3. Do you have something to prove?
Arthur Abraham: No. I do not have to prove anything to anyone, except myself. I want to show that I am still hungry for success and also want to conserve my current shape by staying active. I can take a break when I am 40 years old – being retired for good.
Before you beat Stieglitz for the WBO Title, a lot of fans and experts said that you have had enough. Was your answer inside the ring also an answer to your critics?
Arthur Abraham: I also had good tactics at hand in the rematch with Stieglitz, but his “lucky punch” rendered them void. I had the same kind of preparation for our rubber match and you saw what happened there. If I would have a lack of motivation I would have hang the gloves up rather today than tomorrow. I do not give a damn about what the critics say about it.
What about a fourth meeting with Stieglitz in the future?
Arthur Abraham: We have given the fans an action-packed fight recently and I can envision that we can still give them another good fight. However, if it will come this far – I do not now. First, Stieglitz has to earn the chance to make it happen. Maybe he has to go up against someone like Tyron Zeuge, who might be too much for Stieglitz to overcome.
Next up for you is a title defense against Nikola Sjekloca. What are your thoughts on him?
Arthur Abraham: He is physical strong and has only lost once to current world champion Sakio Bika. His technique is also respectable but it still will not be enough to beat me.
When you first met Sjekloca at the kick-off press conference earlier this month, he talked more about a possible unification with Bika than about fighting you. Does he lack the proper respect for you?
Arthur Abraham: I do not care for his future plans. And by the way: who is the world champion – him or me? Before it gets tough inside the ring, a lot of fighters can talk a good game but cannot follow up their words with action. Watch my fight on May 3 to see this happen again.
Moreover, how do you want to earn Sjekloca’s respect?
Arthur Abraham: With my punching power. When my first hard punch lands precisely, Sjekloca will know what he is up against. Then it will show what he is made of.
Your coach Ulli Wegner said that you are still progressing as a boxer. How long do you want to go on with your career?
Arthur Abraham: I hope for at least another 2-3 years. I am feeling that I still have the potential to fight against the world’s best. I am still aiming to take revenge for some of my losses, like against Andre Ward. But now, it is all about beating Sjekloca on May 3.
Nikola Sjekloca Interview
Nikola, please give us your opinion on the fighter that is Arthur Abraham…
Nikola Sjekloca: He was a real champion with a big heart – I repeat: He was! As a middleweight, he made it to the top of the division and was a world-class operator. However, those days are long gone. Abraham is not quite as strong at the limit of 168 pounds.
…and you think you are better than he is at super middleweight?
Nikola Sjekloca: Yes, I do! I am taller and my hand speed is better than his is. On top of all this, my ring skills are just superior to Abraham’s.
You are a quite confident, Nikola – although, you have never won a world title. In your biggest fight to date, you lost to current WBC Champion Sakio Bika in a world title eliminator…
Nikola Sjekloca: That was a great experience. Because of this fight, I know that I am able to beat Abraham come May 3. Until having fought Bika, I did not know what I am capable of and this lack of knowledge cost me the win back then. Now I am pretty sure: I have the potential to be a world champion!
Were you impressed by Abraham’s performance as he recaptured the WBO Belt from Robert Stieglitz back in March?
Nikola Sjekloca: No, not really. He just made his game plan work for the whole twelve rounds as Stieglitz made some tactical mistakes from round nine on, which cost him the fight. So in my opinion, Abraham just profited from Stieglitz lapses.
What will be your key to victory?
Nikola Sjekloca: I will not give you any specifics on my tactics. The only thing I can tell you is that I am close to the camp of Floyd Mayweather. Their instructions in addition to hard workouts with my coach Milivoje Basic are the perfect package to become a world champion.
Is there any other reason to believe that you will leave the Velodrom with a win?
Nikola Sjekloca: I have never lost to an Armenian-born boxer. I knocked out two of them while being an amateur. In 2011, I fought in Germany for the first time and beat former world title challenger Khoren Gevor decisively on points. Abraham will be number four on my list. My dream will come true!