Sturm Decisions Castillejo and regains his World Title

sturm28.04.07 - By Miguel Velasco: Felix Sturm (27-2, 12 KO’s) won back his WBA middleweight title last night, defeating champion Javier Castillejo (61-7, 41 KO's) by 12-round unanimous decision at the König-Pilsener-Arena in Oberhausen, Germany. The judges’ scores were 116-112, 116-112, and 115-113, all for Sturm. I personally scored the fight a draw, mainly for Sturm’s lack of work in three of the first five rounds, on top of him giving away the 11th and 12th round by running away from Castillejo and avoiding exchanges.

This bout was the revenge bout of their first fight, in which Sturm was stopped by Castillejo in the 11th round last year on July 15, 2006. Since then, much had changed with Sturm; He had abandoned his experiment with being more offensive minded – an attempt to please the German crowds, who were displeased with his conservative fighting style – and returned back to his old fighting technique, a style that mostly focuses on jabbing, side to side movement, and an occasional right hand.

Against Castillejo, 39, it was often effective at keeping him on the outside, helping to mask Sturm’s lack of an inside fighting game, which was badly exposed in the first fight. However, Sturm appeared to be too focused on jabbing and wasn’t mixing in enough right hands or combinations to match what he was getting hit with by Castillejo in many of the rounds, making the fight much closer than it might have been otherwise.

As in many of his previous bouts since becoming a champion, Sturm, 28, often used side to side movement to the extreme, avoiding action and giving the appearance that he was running from Castillejo. It looked bad, I must say, but the German crowd didn’t seem to care – at least this time – as they didn’t boo Sturm like in previous bouts when they grew tired of watching him run around the ring instead of fighting. For me, Sturm’s style brought out the worse images of past boxers that utilized foot movement to win fights but bore the audiences in the process. It’s a painfully boring to watch, and at the same time, it often works against the boxer doing the running, since they’re often giving away rounds by avoiding action. However, this fight was in Germany, so Sturm was relatively safe, no matter how much he ran from Castillejo.

In the first round, Sturm pretty much dominated the action, bouncing his jab off Castillejo’s face as he slowly came forward. The Spaniard did little this round, only throwing a half dozen weak-looking jabs and following Sturm around the ring like a puppy dog. Sturm ran, of course, so I must come to the defense of Castillejo, because it wasn’t like fighting a top middleweight, such as Edison Miranda or Jermain Taylor, both of which come right at their opponents, throwing bombs. Sturm is then opposite of those fighters, resembling the worst of Hector Camacho Jr. and Roy Jones Jr., after he lost his speed and chin.

In the 2nd & 3rd rounds, Sturm backed away from action much of the time, covering up while Castillejo unloaded fierce combinations to the head and body. Sturm, if nothing else, was more of a punching bag during these two rounds, offering little in return other than his jabs. It was as if he was afraid to throw a right or left hand, possibly remembering how Castillejo had rocked him bad in the first fight when he attempted to mix it up.

In the 4th round, this was a close round and very difficult to score. Sturm landed a lot of - you guessed it – jabs this round. However, Castillejo landed the more effective punches, throwing numerous combinations and the harder punches. I scored it closely for Sturm, but it could have easily have gone for Castillejo.

Catillejo attacked Sturm viciously in rounds five and 6, landing combinations and causing Sturm to back up and run even more to avoid the head of the action. During this time, Sturm had a look of worry on his face, like he was in the process of getting beaten down once again by the Spaniard. Simply put, Sturm was exposed in these rounds for his lack of offense, showing all of his weaknesses for all to see for future opponents.

In rounds 7-10, Castillejo slowed way down, appearing very tired, and losing power on his shots. This was, of course, like a dream come true for Sturm who was then able to easily control the action with his jab alone while continuing to fight conservatively. Castillejo looked finished, like he hit the wall and had nothing left with which to fight with. It was strange, considering it happened so quickly.

Going into the 11th, I thought to myself that Castillejo would probably collapse from exhaustion and not be able to continue the fight through this round. However, a strange thing happened – Sturm started running non-stop, like a scalded dog, avoiding all action and giving away both the 11th and the 12th. Rather than fighting it out until the end, Sturm ran, just like he did against Maselino Masoe and Oscar De La Hoya – heck, like he does in all of his fights – and gave away the last two rounds of the fight. Castillejo, for his part, he chased Sturm the entire time, tagging him with hard combinations every time he was able to catch up with him, which was surprisingly often, considering the amount of running Sturm was doing.

It was terrible to watch because it wasn’t boxing at that point - just survival – and it seemed insane considering the closeness of the fight. Then, again, the fight was in Germany, so all logical type of thinking like this much be thrown out the window. Whatever the case, Sturm was badly out-punched in the last two rounds of the fight, no matter what kind of spin the German fans want to on it – it wasn’t close. As it is, I scored the fight a draw based on those last two rounds which were thrown away by Sturm. The actual judges’ scores were odd, as if they were watching a completely different fight, because in no way did Sturm win the fight, not even close. In the rounds that he won, it wasn’t as if he was giving a one-sided jabbing clinic, like the type that Winky Wright puts on in his fights. No, Castillejo was competitive, even in the rounds that Sturm won. However, what really made it bad was his running. It stunk, to put a not too fine point on it.

With this victory, Sturm regains the WBA belt, allowing him to briefly repair his battered image and wounded pride. With any luck, he’ll be able to avoid fighting the tougher middleweights, like Miranda and Pavlik, allowing him to hold onto the title a longer than he would have otherwise considering his limited talent

Article posted on 29.04.2007

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