Making his first defense of his WBA World super middleweight title, Tyron Zeuge (20-0-1, 11 KOs) defeated number 3 WBA Isaac Ekpo (31-3, 24 KOs) by a 5th round technical decision on Saturday night to retain his World Boxing Association title at the MBS Arena in Potsdam, Germany. The 24-year-old Zeuge built up a lead through five rounds.
The bout was halted due to Zeuge having suffered a cut from a head-butt earlier in the fight in round 3. Zeuge had done enough through 5 rounds to build a small lead. The final judge’s scores were 49-46, 48-47 and 49-47. It was not an impressive performance by Zeuge, who struggled at times with the sharp pot shots from the hard hitting Ekpo. There’s no telling what would have happened if the fight had gone into the second half.
Zeuge did not look impressive on defense, and his power was lacking. This was supposed to be someone that Zeuge could shine against, because there are a number of better fighters in the top 5 than Ekpo. If Zeuge had to fight George Groves, David Benavidez or Fedor Chudinov, he might have come unglued against them. Those are all top 5 contenders in the World Boxing Associations’ rankings. Arthur Abraham is ranked No.6 with the WBA, and he would be a very tough match for Zeuge as well. If Zeuge can’t fight better in the future than he did tonight against Ekpo, then he;’s not going to last very long as the WBA ‘regular’ super middleweight champion.
Zeuge recently won the WBA World title last November in stopping Giovanni De Carolis in the 12th round in November 2016. Zeuge had a slight lead at the time that he stopped De Carolis. In their previous fight between them last July, Zeuge had battled De Carolis to a highly questionable 12 round draw in Berlin, Germany. Zeuge fought much of the fight with an arm injury, and was using one arm. It looked like DeCarolis easily won the fight, but the judges scored it a draw. Zeuge was then able to get a rematch with De Carolis.
Zeuge is going to need to be able to fight a lot better than he looked tonight against Ekpo if he wants to be able to beat fighters like Groves, Abraham, Chudinov and Benavidez. Those are all very solid fighters that would make it tough on Zeuge to see the 12th round. Zeuge was fortunate tonight that the fight was stopped because of a cut. He might not be so lucky in the future when faces someone better, and the fight isn’t halted after 5 rounds.