Commentary

Abraham out to silence Miranda once and for all

If a broken jaw wouldn't slow Arthur Abraham down, what chance does Edison Miranda have in their rematch?

Originally Published: June 20, 2008
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Arthur Abraham, Edison MirandaTom Casino/ShowtimeDespite emerging the victor the first time around, Arthur Abraham, left, has come to the United States to fight Edison Miranda in their rematch.
HOLLYWOOD, Fla.-- The most famous broken jaw in boxing history surely belongs to Muhammad Ali, who had his busted in 1973 by Ken Norton during the first of their three fights.

Thanks in part to the injury, Norton claimed a split decision over Ali.

Thirty-three years later, on Sept. 23, 2006, middleweight titleholder Arthur Abraham joined the broken jaw club. But unlike Ali, he went on to win his fight despite the gruesome injury.

Abraham was defending his title in Germany against Edison Miranda, a murderous puncher, when the Colombian contender broke his jaw in two places, the first coming during the fourth round.

Blood poured from Abraham's mouth in the corner between rounds in a graphic scene. And although the fight was nearly stopped in the fifth -- one of the many controversial elements cited by the Miranda camp about the officiating and judging of the bout -- Abraham fought until the final bell with the nasty injury.

His mouth was swollen and he swallowed blood throughout the fight. He also spit blood like he was famed KISS front man Gene Simmons. Abraham's feat of fighting for more than eight rounds with such a severe injury makes Tiger Woods' 19-hole playoff victory in the U.S. Open look easy.

When it was over, Abraham had retained his belt, but not without a significant cost. He lost nearly a liter of blood during the fight. He spent three days in intensive care, had two titanium plates and 22 screws inserted into his jaw during surgery, and was out of action for eight months.

Arthur Abraham & Edison Miranda
Alexander Heimann/Bongarts/Getty ImagesEven with a broken jaw, Abraham, left, says he never thought of quitting.
And yet Abraham (26-0, 21 KOs) has come to the United States to fight for the first time against Miranda (30-2, 26 KOs), the man who inflicted the injury, on Saturday night (Showtime, 9 ET/PT) at the Hard Rock resort in Hollywood, Fla.

They'll meet at a 166-pound catch weight in the scheduled 12-rounder because Miranda can no longer make the middleweight limit of 160. Abraham, win or lose, is due to defend his title later this year against the winner of the co-feature, an elimination match between Giovanni Lorenzo (26-0, 18 KOs) and former junior middleweight titleholder Raul Marquez (41-3, 29 KOs).

Abraham, 28, who has defended his belt seven times and scored a slew of highlight-reel worthy knockouts, said that no matter how much pain he felt during his first encounter with Miranda, he never thought of quitting.

"If the opponent is hitting you hard and you feel pain, you continue," Abraham said after Thursday's final news conference through translator Heiko Mallwitz, although he was able to mix in limited English.

"I recognized in the fourth round that the jaw was broken and I told my coach [Ulli Wegner] in the corner after the fourth round. We weren't going to quit. I am hard guy, I am a tough guy, I am world champion and nobody can take away the belt. That's why I never give up. If you want to be world champion then you have to feel the pain and you cannot stop."

During the fight, Miranda, 27, was deducted five points -- he says unfairly -- by referee Randy Neumann. The other significant controversy came during the fifth round, when time was called and Abraham's jaw was examined and illegally treated by two different ringside doctors during an almost five-minute timeout.

Miranda's camp believes the fight should have ended then in a TKO victory.

"It is why I want to break his jaw again," Miranda said.

[+] EnlargeEdison Miranda
Tom Casino/ShowtimeMiranda would like nothing more than to break Abraham's jaw again.
Despite the harsh talk from Miranda, he does have respect for the bravery Abraham showed by continuing to fight with the injury.

"I give him a lot of respect because he has a big heart," Miranda said. "But on Saturday everything will be different."

Wilfried Sauerland, who has promoted Abraham for his entire professional career, said he knew Abraham's mouth was injured during the fight but did not realize the extent of the injury.

"I didn't know he had a broken jaw," he said. "The trainer wanted to carry it from round to round and see how it was going. If it doesn't work, he would have canceled [the rest of the fight]. But he knows Arthur. If he would have stopped the fight and Arthur would have lost his world title, he would have not have killed him, but would not have been very nice with him.

"It was unbelievable to go with an injury like this. It is strange for me though because he boxed better after the injury and used his brain more than he did beforehand."

It is that kind of grit and determination that makes Sauerland, one of Europe's most prominent promoters for the past 30 years, believe that Abraham will appeal to an American audience.

"He is not a guy who wants to do 20 defenses in Germany," Sauerland said. "He's a guy who wants to make his name worldwide and I think he has potential, and he's also somebody who will go down well with American fans because he's a good puncher. That's why we decided now is the time to come over."

Abraham, too, has yearned to come to America.

"I come to America because I want to make big fights," he said. "All the legends in boxing fought in America. It's my dream to fight in America. I want to become a super champion here in America. And above all, I want to make a fight with Oscar De La Hoya. If he likes, I will box without [taking] money."

While a De La Hoya fight is highly unlikely, one match that is possible is a showdown with recognized middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik.

[+] EnlargePavlik-Miranda
Joe Murphy/Getty ImagesAbraham is keen on making a fight with fellow Miranda conqueror Kelly Pavlik sometime early next year.
Sauerland and Bob Arum, Pavlik's promoter, have been talking about the fight for quite some time.

"The latest communication we had was a week ago and that we wouldn't be able to do it this year," Sauerland said. "If we do it, end of January, first part of February here in America."

Pavlik, who owns a seventh-round knockout of Miranda, plans to fight in the fall, as does Abraham in his mandatory defense against the undercard winner. After that, the fight could happen.

Abraham, however, is focused on Miranda.

"He doesn't like Miranda," Sauerland said. "He doesn't like the way Miranda came to Germany and displayed his cut throat [gesture]. That doesn't go down well with people there and especially with Arthur. He genuinely dislikes him as a person."

But Sauerland admitted that Abraham didn't have to give Miranda a rematch. He could have simply come to America and faced somebody else, especially because both Showtime and HBO were so interested in him.

"I could have talked Arthur out of this fight, but I am a boxing fan and I wanted to see it again," Sauerland said.

Abraham said he's ready for the rematch, which he said will be much easier because he won't have to fight with a broken jaw again.

"Miranda is not a hard opponent. He is easy," said Abraham, who lives in Berlin but was born in Armenia. "Pavlik, De La Hoya, they are hard opponents. Miranda lost his two important fights to me and Pavlik. He's beaten a bunch of no-names."

Then Abraham rubbed his jaw with both hands.

"He broke my jaw," he said. "He broke my jaw twice. My jaw was broken and he still couldn't beat me."

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.