By Jim Dower: WBA World super middleweight champion Tyron Zeuge (21-0-1, 11 KOs) will be facing #1 WBA Isaac Ekpo (32-3, 25 KOs) in a rematch on March 24 at the Iselparkhalle, in Hamburg, Germany.
Zeuge, 25, already beat the Ekpo by a 5th round technical decision last year on March 25, 2017.
That fight was cut short after Zeuge suffered a cut from a clash of heads in round 5 that caused the fight to go to the scorecards. Zeuge won the fight by the scores 49-46, 48-47 and 49-47. Zeuge will be giving the 35-year-old Ekpo a rematch, which is a good deal for him because he’s got his number. This will
In Zeuge’s last fight, he defeated fringe contender 35-year-old Paul Smith by a 2 round unanimous decision on June 17th. That was a fight that was criticized by a lot of boxing fans, as they saw Zeuge defending his WBA title against a fighter that didn’t deserve a world title shot in Smith.
Going into the Zeuge fight last June, Smith had lost 3 out of his last 6 fights in 2 defeats to former WBO super middleweight champion Arthur Abraham and Andre Ward.
Zeuge’s promoters appear to be using the same type of weak match-making that we saw from former WBO 168 lb. champion Abraham and Robert Stieglitz when those 2 German based world champions took turns holding the WBO belt. With the soft match-making, Abraham held his WBO title for 4 years before he was finally dethroned by Gilberto Ramirez in 2016. Had Abraham fought a good fighter during that time frame, he would have likely lost his WBO title and never gotten it back.
It was clever match-making on the part of Abraham’s promoters to keep him as the WBO super middleweight champion for 4 years. Now we’re seeing the same kind of match-making for Zeuge with him being matched against Ekpo twice and Paul Smith. It’ll be interesting to see if Zeuge’s management can have him hold his WBA title for 4 years like Abraham held the WBO strap.
The World Boxing Association was supposed to be reducing the number of champions they have in each division, but it doesn’t look like that’s happening. Zeuge is the lower level champion at 168 below George Groves, who holds the WBA Super World super middleweight title. Groves is considered the WBA’s upper level champion 168 lb. champion and Zeuge the lower level champ.
It would be nice if the WBA ordered Zeuge and Groves to face each other so they could eliminate one of the champions. Zeuge would likely be out of his class against Groves. If the WBA doesn’t make the move to eliminate one of their 2 champions at 168, it won’t be surprising to see Zeuge hold onto his title facing weak opposition like Ekpo and Paul Smith.
Ekpo was beaten by Robert Stieglitz by a lopsided 12 round unanimous decision in October 2013. Since that loss, Ekpo has won 10 out of his last 11 fights against lower level fighters. In Ekpo’s last fight, he defeated 36-year-old journeyman Philip Kotey (32-12-2, 25 KOs) by a 4th round knockout on October 14th.