Overrated Boxers Part II: Sven Ottke (Germany)

04/07/2023 - No comments

Sven Ottke was a German boxer who competed in the super-middleweight division from 1997 to 2004. He was a unified world champion, holding the IBF and WBA titles, and retired undefeated with 34 wins and 6 knockouts. However, many boxing fans and experts consider him to be very overrated, as he never fought outside Germany and often benefited from controversial decisions in his favor. He also faced mostly mediocre opponents and avoided fighting some of the best fighters in his division, such as Joe Calzaghe, Roy Jones Jr., and Bernard Hopkins.

Ottke had a successful amateur career, winning a bronze medal at the 1989 World Championships and two gold medals at the European Championships in 1991 and 1996. He also participated in three Olympic Games but failed to win a medal. Ottke was known as “The Phantom” for his elusive style and defensive skills, but he lacked punching power and charisma. He was trained by Ulli Wegner.

Ottke retired undefeated with a record of 34 wins and no losses. Despite his impressive statistics, many boxing fans consider him to be one of the most overrated fighters of all time. Ottke’s legacy is not as great as it seems, and why he does not deserve to be ranked among the best super-middleweights in history.

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One of the main reasons why Ottke was overrated is that he faced a very weak level of opposition throughout his career. He never fought any of the top names in his division, such as Joe Calzaghe, Mikkel Kessler, Anthony Mundine, or Jeff Lacy. Instead, he mostly defended his titles against obscure or past-prime challengers, such as Thomas Tate, Charles Brewer, Byron Mitchell, and Glen Johnson. Many of these opponents were hand-picked by Ottke’s promoter Wilfried Sauerland, who had a reputation for protecting his fighters from tough competition. Ottke also benefited from fighting almost exclusively in Germany, where he enjoyed home advantage and favorable judging.

Another reason why Ottke was overrated is that he had a very boring and defensive style of fighting. He was not a knockout artist or a volume puncher, but rather a cautious and technical boxer who relied on his jab and footwork to score points. He often clinched and held his opponents to avoid exchanges, and rarely took any risks or showed any aggression. His fights were often dull and uneventful, and he rarely impressed the fans or the media with his performances. He was also accused of being a dirty fighter who used illegal tactics such as headbutts, elbows, and low blows to gain an edge.

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Ottke won many controversial decisions in his favor that could have easily gone the other way. For example, in his first fight with Charles Brewer in 2002, he won by a split decision that many observers felt was a robbery. Brewer was the aggressor throughout the fight and landed more punches than Ottke, who was cut and bruised by the end of the bout. In his second fight with Byron Mitchell in 2003, he won by a majority decision that was also disputed by many. Mitchell knocked down Ottke twice in the final round and seemed to have done enough to win the fight, but two judges scored it for Ottke by one point. In his last fight with Robin Reid in 2004, he won by a unanimous decision that was widely criticized as a hometown gift. Reid outworked and outlanded Ottke for most of the fight, but the judges gave Ottke almost every round.

Sven Ottke was a very overrated boxer who did not face the best opposition, did not have an exciting style, and did not win convincingly. He may have retired undefeated, but he did not prove himself against the elite of his division or leave a lasting impression on the sport. He does not belong in the same conversation as other great super-middleweights like Joe Calzaghe, Roy Jones Jr., Andre Ward, or James Toney.

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