One fighter was moving up in weight and the other was moving down in weight. However, it was the man who was descending who ascended himself into the semifinals of the World Boxing Super Series on Saturday at Sport and Congress center in Schwerin, Germany.
That would be former light-heavyweight titlist Juergen Braehmer, who despite fighting for the first time as a 168-pounder since 2007, put on a clinic and handed the previously undefeated Rob Brant, who was moving up from middleweight, his first professional loss by unanimous decision.
The scores were 119-109, 118-110, and a surprising 116-112. With the victory, Braehmer will face unbeaten WBC ‘Diamond’ champion Callum “Mundo” Smith (23-0, 17 KO’s), 27, of Liverpool, who last month won his WBSS quarterfinals bout, a 12-round unanimous decision over the previously undefeated Erik Skoglund (26-1, 12 KO’s), of Sweden.
Brant (22-1, 15 KO’s), 27, of Saint Paul, Minnesota, connected with a good jab to the body and two rights in the first round, but Braehmer settled in and moved around effectively, making Brant miss. Then, the German followed up with a straight left hand that knocked his opponent off balance, and a one-two combination.
“He [Braehmer] was the better man tonight,” Brant said. “His timing was great. I can’t take anything away from him.”
Brant had a good fourth round, connecting with a series of rights and counter rights to the head. In the fifth, he cracked Braehmer with a big right hand that caused the nose to bleed profusely. However, Braehmer came right back and hurt Brant with a massive left to the body just as the round concluded.
Braehmer (49-3, 35 KO’s), 39, of Germany, continued to control the action in the sixth behind a stiff jab and one-two combinations. Brant briefly rallied in the 11th round, countering Braehmer with a series of right hands, but his superior movement didn’t allow him to set up a power shot.
“I showed what I can do at 39 years of age,” Braehmer said. “I had to work really hard to come back from injuries. I had problems with my back and a muscle tear. [My] doctors told me I would have to work very hard to come back and that’s what I did.”
Although Braehmer was marked up below both eyes and had a dented nose, Brant struggled to land consistently during the fight.
“His style really gave me trouble,” Brant candidly said. He’s very sneaky. He doesn’t seem like he’s that fast, but his timing is perfect.”
Brant and his team came into the WBSS tournament with a ton of confidence, but his critics believed he was unlikely to win a decision against the veteran Braehmer in his home country. Furthermore, as the fight proved, Brant lacked the experience, but likely learned a great deal.
All quarterfinal bouts of the super middleweight and cruiserweight tournaments are complete. The semifinals are slated to begin in early 2018.