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Macklin Gets Sturmed in Germany

At Lanxess-Arena, Cologne, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany Saturday, WBA title middleweight titleholder Felix Sturm got all he could handle when Matthew Macklin started early, faded a little down the stretch, and got the bad end of the decision stick for his troubles. It gave credence to the idea that you have to knock out a German-based fighter to get a draw despite the recent loss of titleholder Sebastian Sylvester to Australian Daniel Geale.
Macklin came out the gate hard, charging at Sturm, 36-2-1 (15), who got in his shell and stayed there for much of the first half of the fight. Macklin stayed low and compact, digging around the high guard of Sturm to get at the champ’s body. Macklin, 28-3 (19), changed it up by moving out to long range, using his jab to split the guard of Sturm. For his part, Sturm waited around, threw very little and let Macklin have at him all round.
Macklin kept at it in the second, digging to the body and keeping the volume going while Sturm seemed to wait out the early storm.

In the third, Sturm finally woke up, realizing he had to fight back. He came with a hard left hook and a right hand to answer Macklin’s power body shots and pressure attack.
In the fourth, the work rate of Macklin forced Sturm back into his defensive shell but in spots, particularly in the back end of the round, Sturm got off with a right hand and some nice uppercuts. While Sturm was backing off, he was tight defensively and was shooting well in spots. Macklin was getting in his hooks around the guard, however, and seemed to be winning the first four rounds.
In the fifth, the snap seemed a bit off of Macklin’s shots while Sturm got in harder, snappier punches. Still, the volume from Macklin was truly winning the fight, throwing ten to two of Sturm’s shots. In between rounds, Sturm seemed very tired.
The sixth was a tight round as Macklin pressed forward, killing the left ribs of Sturm, which were bright red by now. Sturm got in a nice right hand and a solid uppercut late but Macklin carried the round, tearing at Sturm’s ribs and driving him back into the ropes all round long. However, a late Sturm right hand seemed to rock Macklin a bit.
Sturm capitalized on that last punch in the seventh and got on his bicycle a bit, sticking his solid jab and keeping a regrouping Macklin at bay. Macklin got to the body in spots but his energy level was lower this round as he allowed Sturm to dictate the pace and balance of the stanza.
Sturm continued to box safely in the eighth while Macklin looked tired from all his early output. Sturm found his rhythm and used his jab primarily with the occasional right. Macklin’s shots were not as sharp but the volume did remain. It was a close round that depended on whether you liked volume or sharper cleaner punches.
Macklin rallied strongly in the ninth, remembering to go to the body and smothering Sturm in close. Sturm’s jab was not a factor here as Macklin closed the distance, landed in volume to the gloves, and sometimes split his guard or looped around it, generally bullying Sturm.
The tenth was a tough round as Macklin started strong but Sturm took over late in the round, landing the crisper shots.
Sturm came in strong for the 11th, boxing smart, working in hard left hooks and the occasional uppercut and body shot. Macklin looked a little sloppy in this round, pushing his shots. He was game but Sturm was sharper and more active in this round.
The 12th was impressive as both men left it all on the table as they went at each other with the fervor of men who knew the fight was up for grabs. In the end, it was Sturm who closed stronger, landing a series of blows that looked to hurt Macklin.
In the end, the judges saw it for Sturm by scores of 115-113, Macklin, and two scores of 116-112 for Sturm. To this writer, who had it 7-5 clearly for Macklin, the decision was of the hometown variety. Macklin made the fight with volume and aggression while Sturm got off less but perhaps more cleanly.
A rematch is likely as Sturm said afterward he would like to give Macklin another shot.


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