The WBO super-middleweight champion was seemingly ahead on the judges??? scorecards going into the final stretches having got the better of Smith in the opening half of their rematch, staggering him with a seventh-round right hand.
But the Liverpool puncher, whose first title shot in Germany ended in a controversial decision loss in September, opted to eschew caution and risk a painful conclusion to the evening.
???I remember thinking in the 10th, ‘what???s the worst that can happen???????, Smith exclusively told Sky Sports.
???So what if I got chinned? I had to go for it. I???d rather take a loss on the chin than do nothing and just survive. It???s alright for me as a pundit to say ???go out on your shield??? but I remember thinking I wouldn???t accept defeat with three rounds to go.
???No complaints, it was a tough and hard fight and he hurt me. You can either accept defeat with three rounds left or you can go for it. I genuinely tried and I???ve got no regrets. The only thing I???d change is getting caught but I didn???t see the shot coming. That was a big shot on the chin and I felt my legs go.???
Punching a brick wall
Abraham???s right hand was the most memorable punch of a scrap that regularly pitted Smith???s work-rate against the champion???s durability and power ??? and the Liverpudlian accepts it was the turning point.
???I had a great first round, he must have got a rollicking in the corner after because he came out jabbing,??? Smith said. ???The second round was close, it could have gone either way. After four it was level, after six it was three each.
???It was like punching a brick wall, he???s got a head like a bowling ball. He???s not the best looking bloke ??? he looks tough and rugged ??? and had a poker face when I hurt him.
???Then he caught me in the seventh and hurt me. He won the seventh, eighth and ninth and I remember Joe Gallagher telling me that I needed 10, 11 and 12 to get anything out of the fight. Round 10 was very close but I won 11 and 12.
???I haven???t watched it back ??? the family flew to Germany and forgot to press ???record??? on Sky Plus! I???m not keen to watch it either.
???In 10 or 15 years I might change my mind but nothing will replace winning. I???m not happy with just going the distance, that???s not who I am. If I can???t be world champion I won???t settle for less.???
Smith reunited with his family in England on Sunday evening which put his disappointment into perspective ??? but the 32-year-old has cast an eye to the next time he???ll wrap his hands and step into a ring.
???My mother raised me saying that handling myself as a man is more important than victory,??? he continued. ???I raise my son to help someone up if he kicks them in Saturday morning football.
???On the plane home it was chock-a-block although most of the fans were my family! The support was unbelievable, it would take me years to thank them all personally. Every tweet I get says ???congratulations??? but I feel bad because I didn???t win!
???I need an operation this week on my elbow, it didn???t affect me in the fight, but it needs fixing.
???I???ve proved I belong at world level. I???ll wait to see what offers come in. I haven???t got long left in my career so there???s no point dropping a level. Fingers crossed, I???ll fight again for a world title.???