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Felix Sturm: “Daniel Geale is the most important and biggest fight for me”

Photo © Marianne Mueller
Photo © Marianne Mueller

By Anson Wainwright


The better part of a decade ago, a young, undefeated German fighter headed for the bright lights of Las Vegas to take part in the biggest fight of his young life. Felix Sturm was less than a year removed from winning the WBO middleweight title and was called upon to defend his title against living legend Oscar De la Hoya, who was aiming to break records and make good on his promise of winning world titles at six different weights. Many saw Sturm as a sacrificial lamb designed for De la Hoya to achieve his unprecedented goal and set up a super-fight with longtime middleweight ruler (and now partner in Golden Boy Promotions) Bernard Hopkins. However, a few alarm bells rang when a fleshy “Golden Boy” turned up for the weigh-in. As the fight got underway, those bells rang louder and louder with many believing Sturm won the fight. On this particular June night in 2004, the three people who mattered most, namely judges Mike Glienna, Paul Smith and Dave Moretti, all saw the fight for De la Hoya who claimed a razor-thin 115-113 decision on every card. Though disappointed, Sturm wasn’t perturbed, winning four more fights over a near two-year stretch, setting him up for a shot at the WBA 160-pound championship held by Maselino Masoe. Though he was surprisingly stopped in his first defence against former WBC light middleweight champion Javier Castillejo in July of 2006, it was to prove but a minor arbitration as he regained his old crown in a rematch the following spring. Since then, he’s racked up 12 successful defences against the likes of future IBF champion Sebastian Sylvester and British duo Matthew Macklin and Martin Murray. Many fans believed his struggles with the latter two were a signal that the 33-year-old was on the wane; that proved unfounded as last time out, Sturm scored a stoppage over Sebastian Zbik to take his overall ledger to 37-2-2 (16). On the 1st September in Oberhausen, Sturm looks to achieve his dream of a unification match when he meets Daniel Geale of Australia with Geale’s IBF strap on the line. It promises to be an exciting affair with huge ramifications in the middleweight division which shows signs of returning to its heyday.

 
Here is a link to Sturm’s preparation before his previous fight, as produced by his own company: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoxwRD9yJlw.

Anson Wainwright - On the 1st September, you meet IBF middleweight champion Daniel Geale in a title unification. What are your thoughts and comments on that fight?

 
Felix Sturm - It’s the most important and biggest fight for me. Unification is the best a boxer can do in his career. I always promised and wanted to make unification and now this dream comes true.
 
AW - What do you think of Geale? What do you see as his strengths and weaknesses?
 
FS - Geale is a strong boxer with talent. He is world champion with good reason. I will watch his fights and have to look where his weaknesses are. And at the end, I will win.
 
AW - The WBA “regular” champion is Gennady Golovkin; the WBA mandated you had to fight him next but you instead took unification. What are your thoughts on Golovkin and is that a fight that you see happening?
 
FS - Unification is always bigger. When the Golovkin fight will come, it’s no problem for me. But we will see after the unification. That’s my actual focus.
 
AW - What are your thoughts on the rest of the middleweight division including the reigning champions, lineal champion Sergio Martinez, the WBC’s Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and WBO champ Dmitry Pirog?
 
FS - Both would be good fights. To see Golovkin doing his first fight against a really good boxer would be interesting but this fight is cancelled. But I also would like to see Chavez vs. Martinez.
 
AW - Could you tell us about your team and your promotional firm? Though you are still very much in boxing, do you see promoting as something you will do after your retire from boxing?
 
FS - Yes, of course. I have my own promotion company called Sturm Box-Promotion and currently, we are bringing up some new talented faces in boxing. But it’s too early to say names. We plan three boxing events per year where I take part as promoter exclusively and the other events, I still will take part as the main event.
 
AW - People criticise German boxing and say that there are some decisions that are given to the home fighter. However, you fought in America back in 2004 and lost a fight to Oscar De la Hoya that many people believe you won so you have seen things from the other side. Could you talk about this? Does this stick with you and make you think against fighting outside of Germany again?
 
FS - The De la Hoya fight is no problem for me anymore. I would fight in America again but such decisions happen in every country of the world, not only in Germany.
 
AW - You’ve fought many very good fighters. Who do you consider the biggest puncher, best boxer, the toughest and the best overall?
 
FS - In all facts, it was Oscar De la Hoya.
 
AW - You were born in Leverkusen and now live in nearby Cologne. Could you tell us about your earliest boxing memory?
 
FS - I have a very good memory of a moment in my early youth. I was 11 years old and my school teacher asked me after a poor result in a test, “Oh boy, what is going to become of you?” Without thinking, I replied, “Boxing world champion!” A few days before that, I had my first experience standing in a boxing ring that was used by amateur boxers of Bayer Leverkusen. I was beaten badly but on my way home, I swore to myself, “I want to be the best in boxing!”
 
AW - Could you tell us about yourself as a person and what you like to do away from boxing, your hobbies and interests?
 
FS - First of all, I like to spend time with my family. My son is almost three years old. I like to play soccer and basketball with my friends and family, go out and have a good time.
 
AW - Who was your boxing hero?
 
FS - Marvin Hagler
 
AW – Finally, do you have a message for the middleweight division?
 
FS - I still have some great fights in my hands and we will see who is ready for this in the next years.
 
Questions and or comments can be sent to Anson at elraincoat@live.co.uk and you can follow him atwww.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright. Anson is also a member of The Ring magazine’s ratings panel.


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