When former middleweight and two-time super middleweight world titleholder Arthur Abraham faced Gilberto "Zurdo" Ramirez last April in Las Vegas on the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley Jr. III undercard, he looked all but done.
Abraham could barely get off any punches, followed Ramirez around the ring and got toyed with in a clean shutout on all three scorecards (120-108) as he yielded his 168-pound belt to the young Mexican.
Abraham had put together a distinguished career, but many called for his retirement after such a nonperformance. He has been through many ring battles and it looked as though they had taken their toll. Abraham, 37, however, had different ideas.
The German dusted himself off and returned three months later to knock out Tim Robin Lihaug in the eighth round. Lihaug, who viewed Abraham as his boxing idol, was not a formidable opponent, but Abraham looked rather sharp in the one-sided victory.
Now, Abraham (45-5, 30 KOs), in his second fight since the nightmare against Ramirez, can put himself in position to earn a mandatory rematch if he wins a title elimination bout against Robin Krasniqi (46-4, 17 KOs) on Saturday (Integrated Sports pay-per-view, 2 p.m. ET) at the Congress Center in Erfurt, Germany. Other scheduled 10-round bouts on the pay-per-view include heavyweight Tom Schwarz (18-0, 11 KOs) against Adnan Redzovic (18-1, 6 KOs) and light heavyweight Adam Deines (10-0-1, 5 KOs) versus Lukasz Golebiewski (8-0, 5 KOs).
"I'm a person who doesn't speak so much, I let actions speak," Abraham said at this week's final prefight news conference. "I'll show you in the ring how we have trained. I'm going to win and fight for the championship. After that, a few title defenses.
"But we are now focusing on this fight. Both boxers have a good level. The fans can look forward to it. No matter who is in front of me, they must be beaten. In the ring there is just one thing. I want to win and I will win."
Krasniqi, 30, of Germany, is very experienced, but lost both times he stepped up in opposition in two light heavyweight world title fights. In 2013, Nathan Cleverly rolled past him by virtual shutout decision. In 2015, Juergen Braehmer stopped him in the ninth round.
Krasniqi has won all three of his fights since, but he has not given up his goal of winning a world title and said he is ready to earn another shot by beating Abraham.
"I have the maximum respect for Arthur, a big name who has achieved everything," Krasniqi said. "But in the ring, there can only be one winner. I've trained long and hard for my dream to become world champion. As always, I've been diligent and disciplined. Everything I've done in the last six months I'm going to show on Saturday. The reward is a clear victory and the chance to win a world championship fight."