Sturm vs Griffin tonight: The disappointing career of Felix Sturm

By Jason Peck: HBO commentator Jim Lampley recently commented that Arthur Abraham could give middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik a tough fight, but WBA champ Felix Sturm would pose no threat at all. In Lampley’s words, Sturm simply wasn’t strong enough, despite his impressive "showing" against Oscar De La Hoya..

boxingAnd so it goes. Instead of threatening the middleweights, Sturm is dismissed by them. He's a B-level fighter, despite being a three-time world champion, and having the skills for better things. Instead, the better part of the German’s career nowadays is spent avenging past bouts he should have easily won. The rest of it is spent defeating fighters who never deserved a crack at his title.

But by all rights, Sturm should be atop the division. When he’s on fire, he brings it all: excellent conditioning, a commanding jab and boxing skills that can confound hardened veterans. Sturm should a force at 160 pounds. Arthur Abraham should be terrified of him. And Sturm should be Pavlik’s top concern, rather a bout against Joe Calzaghe that will never materialize.

And yet Sturm consistently fails to meet his potential. His bout against Castellejo should have ended with Sturm dispatching his opponent, not the other way around. He had every advantage over Randy Griffin, yet Griffin somehow managed to beat him (although German judges saved face by declaring a draw).

How sad. I remember four years ago when Sturm was signed as a tune-up bout for Oscar De La Hoya, and widely derided as a nobody. I even wrote articles that suggested Oscar shouldn’t take Sturm lightly, but (believe it or not) few agreed with me.

Then Sturm-De la Hoya actually occurred. That “showing” Lampley alluded to was actually a decisive points victory for the unknown German (to this day it baffles me that people cannot come to grips with Oscar’s obvious loss, but whatever). At any rate, the "loss" gave him a hell of a boost – for awhile at least.

After that Sturm fought often and fought well. He picked a few journeymen apart, then moved up a rank and blasted the highly-touted Bert Schenk in two rounds. He scored the title. He lost it in a shock KO defeat to Javier Castellejo. It all went down from there.

Since then, Sturm fought competition far below his potential, even though he successfully regained the title. Who the hell was Jaime Pittman? Who had he fought? Or Noe Gonzalez Alcoba? Neither of them had much experience fighting anyone with a winning record.

The middle division has two faces now – Pavlik and Abraham. Sturm has a belt, but no support. He has a dangerous mandatory in Sebastian Sylvester, who raised himself a few notches by finishing Javier Castellejo – a feat Sturm never accomplished. Odds are Felix could lose his belt again – this time for good.

Four years after taking Sturm’s side, I’m not saying hiss detractors are wrong. I’m just saying it’s a damn shame.

Article posted on 05.07.2008

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