According to Bild.de (link in German), Arthur Abraham's fight against Mahir Oral next week will be Arthur Abraham's last at middleweight. Despite being a bit on the short side, Abraham has long had problems with making the 160 pound middleweight limit, and without a big fight at middleweight in immediate sight, he plans on moving to super middleweight, which is a much stronger weight class overall with more opportunities for big name fights.
In all honesty, I have to blame Bob Arum for this one, and in all of his discussions about building Abraham into a bigger name before making a superfight, he dawdled for too long, and the window of opportunity is now closing. This is very bad news for Pavlik. Middleweight is a division without a whole lot of depth, and even without him being a star, a fight with Abraham was probably the biggest money fight he was going to get. Abraham's fight with Oral will be his second to be televised on Showtime, although any serious boxing fan knows he's the biggest threat to Pavlik's middleweight title.
So where does this leave Abraham? I'd say he's in a pretty good position. In Europe, there are a fair number of super middleweights he could go after for decent money, including Mikkel Kessler, Carl Froch and Karoly Balzsay. Even if the chances of any of those fights seems remote, they must all seem less remote than a big money matchup with either Pavlik or Felix Sturm. Abraham's management had offered Sturm 2.5 million Euro for one of the biggest fights that could be made in Germany, and Sturm's camp turned that down without even opening up negotiations. Arum and Sauerland have been pussyfooting around each other to make a Pavlik-Abraham fight for over a year now, and the matchup seems no closer to reality now than it did then. At least there's a ton of depth at 168, and Abraham's earning potential is probably better there. On the other hand, with his peekaboo power punching style, he'll probably have a tougher time dominating at 168, and I think he'd struggle with many of the top dogs in the weight class.
Where does this leave Pavlik? Twiddling his thumbs, pretty much. Arum is still threatening to make the abomination of a fight known as Pavlik-Mora, and he's brought out Felix Sturm as a name, though I'll believe it when I see it. Winky Wright is an option, but we all know about his tendency to ask for way way more than he's worth. Anthony Mundine says he wants Pavlik, but he would have the same problem of needing to develop a name in the US, especially considering that he makes loads of cash fighting patsies in Australia. The last option is Paul Williams, and Bob Arum has all but refused to work with him lately, due to prior Pavlik-Williams negotiations that fell through. He could also move to 168, but frankly, Pavlik hasn't looked like the same fighter north of 160.
Best of luck to Arthur at 168, and maybe this will finally be the kick in the ass that Bob Arum needs to get this fight made.