According to it, Abel was first designed to be a very young french gir instead of the manly bulky dudel! if you don't believe me look at the picture below :-) yep1 that's abel's original design:
The rest of the blog post talks about the difficulties the sf4 team had in choosing the art direction of the game.
For a complete run down of the blog post check out andriasang.com
ps: am i the only one who is quite happy that they changed abel's look to what he is right now?