When Robert Stieglitz lost a competitive decision and his super middleweight world title to Arthur Abraham in a very good fight in August, he did not complain about the judges’ scoring. Stieglitz admitted he lost the fight, but said the damage he suffered around both of his eyes hampered him throughout the second half of the bout.
He was not making an excuse, just being honest, and was a good sport about the outcome.
But when the two fighters met in Saturday's rematch, one Abraham owed him as per their initial contract, Stieglitz turned the tables on Abraham in emphatic fashion at GTEC Arena in Stieglitz's hometown of Magdeburg, Germany.
And wouldn't you know, it was Abraham who suffered the eye damage this time, although -- unlike the damage Stieglitz sustained in the first fight -- Abraham's was much more severe.
Abraham's left eye began to close after eating several hard shots in the second round. By the time referee Michael Ortega called time out seconds into the fourth round to have the ringside doctor assess Abraham, his eye was slammed completely closed. Ortega took the doc's advice and waived the fight off.
It marked the end of an unexpectedly dominating performance for the underdog Stieglitz, who regained his old title in what has to be considered the best performance of his 12-year professional career.
It was so good that the 31-year-old Stieglitz, who held the belt from 2009 to 2012 and made six successful defenses (although not against any top opponents), should now be considered a legitimate opponent for anyone in the 168-pound division.
The fight was all Stieglitz (44-3, 25 KOs), who badly hurt Abraham (36-4, 28 KOs) in the all-action second round. He continued to hurt Abraham with right hands in the third round and had the 33-year-old former middleweight titlist on shaky legs.
When Ortega docked a point from Abraham in the third round because he was punching Stieglitz behind the head in a desperate move, it already looked like the fight was just about over. Sure enough, it was -- just a few seconds into the fourth round.
How dominant was Stieglitz? The CompuBox statistics tell the story clear as day as Stieglitz threw nearly double the punches Abraham did and landed more than double the blows.
Stieglitz landed 70 of 203 shots (34 percent) while Abraham, who has never been a very active fighter, landed just 27 of 105 punches (25 percent).
The even more graphic statistic came in the power-punch category (meaning anything that isn't a jab). Stieglitz landed more than Abraham threw -- 63 of 131 (48 percent) to Abraham's 19 of 62 (31 percent).
Stieglitz might not be the most well-known super middleweight, at least on this side of the Atlantic, and he was never considered for the Super Six World Boxing Classic that brought together six of the top 168-pounders for a tournament from 2009 to 2011. But he can now hang his hat on something that nobody else can: He owns a stoppage win against Abraham.
During the tournament, Abraham suffered all three of his previous defeats, but none by stoppage. Andre Dirrell (DQ11) couldn't stop him. And neither could Carl Froch or Andre Ward, who both beat him decisively on points in world title bouts.
Stieglitz's performance, however, puts him in a great position because now he not only fits in with anyone in the division, but matches with other top fighters are the ones fight fans should be interested in.
It wouldn't be a shock to see Stieglitz meet Abraham, also from Germany, in a rubber match, because it would probably excite their country -- but few others.
But there are other, more intriguing possibilities. He could give a shot to rising British contender George Groves, who blew out a no-hope opponent in two rounds on the undercard and looms as Stieglitz's mandatory challenger.
Stieglitz could campaign for a fight with the winner of the May 25 title fight rematch between Froch and Mikkel Kessler. Or he could seek out the real division champ, Ward, who is rehabbing from shoulder surgery and should be back in late summer or early fall and is in need of a quality opponent.
I know I'd rather see Ward-Stieglitz than see Ward in rematches with Froch or Kessler, both of whom he routed in the Super Six.
Whatever option Stieglitz decides to pursue, his performance against Abraham made it something we should be interested in.