Juergen Braehmer, the aging former light heavyweight world titleholder, was dropping down in weight to super middleweight, a division he had not boxed in since 2007. The 39-year-old was also coming off a sixth-round knockout loss to Nathan Cleverly that cost him a world title, and he was also fighting for the first time in one year.
Even though he was boxing in his hometown of Schwerin, Germany, Braehmer was nonetheless the underdog when he came up against the younger, faster, fresher and seemingly hungrier Rob Brant, who was moving up in weight from middleweight and seemed to be a star on the rise.
But Braehmer was not quite as finished as many thought he was as he rolled past Brant in surprisingly dominant fashion in the last quarterfinal match of the World Boxing Super Series super middleweight tournament Friday night at Kongresshalle.
Brant (22-1, 15 KOs), 27, of St. Paul, Minnesota, and the only American in the eight-man field, was labeled by many as the dark horse to win the 168-pound tournament, but he flamed out and was not even competitive against Braehmer (49-3, 35 KOs).
The judges scored it 119-109, 118-110 and 116-112 for Braehmer, who advanced to the semifinals, which will take place in early 2018 at a location to be determined. He will face Callum Smith (23-0, 17 KOs), 27, of England, who outpointed Erik Skoglund in their quarterfinal fight on Sept. 16.
Braehmer, a southpaw who had two stints with a light heavyweight world title, spent most of the fight making the wild Brant miss with his punches, and then made him pay with accurate counter shots. He was in total control of the fight, using his jab and straight left hand very well. Even when Brant would land a shot, he was only connecting with one at a time as combinations were rare.
"I showed what I can do at 39 years of age," said Braehmer, who had a quiet confidence throughout the buildup to the fight. "I had to work really hard to come back from injuries. I had problems with my back and a muscle tear. Doctors told me I would have to work very hard to come back, and that's what I did."
Brant elected to give up his mandatory position to fight secondary middleweight world titleholder Ryota Mura in order to enter the tournament rather than wait for the result of Murata's rematch with Hassan N'Dam this past Saturday, which Murata won by seventh-round knockout.
The other WBSS semifinal will be an all-British match between world titleholder George Groves (27-3, 20 KOs), 29, and Chris Eubank Jr. (26-1, 20 KOs).
Eubank, 28, won his quarterfinal match on Oct. 7 by third-round knockout of Turkey's Avni Yildirim, and Groves advanced by knocking out countryman Jamie Cox in the fourth round to retain his title on Oct. 14. The final is due to take place in May at a site to be determined.
Braehmer-Brant will be televised on tape delay in the United States on Saturday on DirecTV's Audience Network beginning at 7 p.m. ET.