Overrated Boxers Part III: Felix Sturm (Germany)

01/24/2024 - No comments

Felix Sturm, a German pugilist, juggled world titles in the middleweight division like a circus act from 2003 to 2016. He was hailed as a boxing wizard of his time, but peek under the hood and you’ll find he was more smoke and mirrors than substance, coasting on cushy fights, eyebrow-raising decisions, and whispers of doping.

Sturm grabbed his first world title in 2003, outmaneuvering Hector Javier Velazco for the vacant WBO belt. But his glory was short-lived; he stumbled in his first defense against Oscar De La Hoya, losing a split decision that reeked of controversy. The masses cried foul, arguing Sturm was robbed, but De La Hoya was the golden boy with a golden ticket fight against Bernard Hopkins waiting in the wings.

Rebounding, Sturm snatched the WBA title in 2006 from Maselino Masoe and clung to it for six years. But let’s be honest, his opponents often looked like they’d been picked from the boxing retirement home or had no business in a title fight. Take, for instance, his bouts with Sebastian Sylvester, Randy Griffin, and Khoren Gevor – not exactly the who’s who of boxing elites.

During this reign, Sturm skated through fights with decisions that raised more eyebrows than a bad Botox job. He eked out a draw against Griffin, snatched a win from Matthew Macklin in a bout many called highway robbery, and squeaked past Martin Murray and Daniel Geale in fights that left fans scratching their heads.

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Sturm’s fighting style was akin to a cautious cat – all defense and jabbing, with a glaring lack of knockout power. His reign ended in 2012 with a loss to Daniel Geale. He then dipped his toes in the super middleweight waters, only to get schooled by Robert Stieglitz. Sturm did snag the IBF title in 2013 against an injured Darren Barker and held onto it briefly before losing to Sam Soliman – a decision later changed to no contest due to Soliman’s failed drug test.

In 2016, Sturm bagged the WBA super-middleweight title from Fedor Chudinov under dubious circumstances. The rematch was a repeat of their first tango, with Chudinov looking like the clear winner. But the judges played a different tune, handing Sturm a victory on a silver platter. Cue the outrage and whispers of home cooking and corruption.

Let’s highlight some of Sturm’s more “theatrical” fights:

  • Oscar De La Hoya vs. Felix Sturm (2004): Sturm seemingly outboxed De La Hoya, only for the judges to hand Oscar the win, preserving his showdown with Hopkins.
  • Felix Sturm vs. Matthew Macklin (2011): A nail-biter with Macklin pushing the pace, yet Sturm walked away with a controversial split decision, leaving many to cry foul.
  • Felix Sturm vs. Martin Murray (2011): Another close shave for Sturm, ending in a draw that many felt Murray deserved to win.
  • Felix Sturm vs. Daniel Geale (2012): A razor-thin loss for Sturm in a split decision that could’ve gone either way, but left many questioning his claim to the throne.
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Recently, Sturm clambered back into the ring after a doping-induced hiatus, facing journeyman Sükrü Altay. Expected to be a cakewalk, Sturm instead looked like he’d aged in dog years, barely scraping by with a unanimous decision that had fans and critics alike raising an eyebrow.

In sum, Sturm’s career was a rollercoaster of iffy wins, safe bets, and doping scandals. He dodged the real heavy-hitters of his division and played it safe in his home turf. In the end, Sturm’s legacy is not that of a boxing titan, but of a lucky player who overstayed his welcome.