Felix Sturm vs Koji Sato this Saturday

20.04.09 - by James Slater - This coming Saturday evening, in his native Germany, 30-year-old Felix Sturm defends his portion of the world middleweight title. Taking on the little-known, but undefeated Japanese fighter, Koji Sato, Sturm will be looking to make a sixth successful defence in his second reign as WBA 160 pound king. Not too much is known about the 14-0(13) challenger, apart from the fact that he is younger than Sturm, he is a big puncher statistically, and he will be having only his second fight outside of Japan and his first in Europe..

Though Sturm, 31-2-1(13) is a pretty big betting favourite to win on Saturday, and though he holds a large edge in experience and is expected by most to have a fairly easy night against Sato, the fight could actually be a dangerous one for the champion. Whenever a largely unknown fighter challenges for a world title there is often a tendency on the part of the established fighter to come in somewhat overconfident of victory. Sturm is expected to win, he has held onto his world title (second reign) for two-and-a-half years now, and his fans will be coming to see him keep it against Sato. But an unknown quantity can be a dangerous quantity.

Sato, a pro since April of 2005, actually had his pro debut in Las Vegas - winning a 1st round TKO. Aside from that, the 28-year-old who stands the same height as Sturm at 5'11" has boxed exclusively at home. Looking down Sato's record, there is not one single fighter with a name that is overly recognisable. However, on the positive side, Sato has met mostly fighters with winning records, with only two opponents being beaten that had lost more than they'd won coming in. And again, though he has met no-names, Sato has stopped all but one of them. The challenger can certainly punch.

Never having gone more than nine rounds, and having gone past four rounds on just two occasions, there is a legitimate question mark regarding the Japanese fighter's stamina. Also, we know next to nothing about his chin. Still, as I've said, as yet unproven ability by a fighter does not mean he does not have any. With nothing at all to lose on Saturday, Soto, who last fight in January (KO 2), may just go into the ring with an all-or-nothing mentality and let his hands go as a result. For Sturm the fight is a puzzling one for him to have taken. If he beats Sato, people will say he only did what they expected him to, but if he loses he will have lost to a relative novice by comparison. There is nothing at all for Sturm to gain in this fight.

Making a prediction is tough, due to all the above. We may see fireworks, we may not. Hopefully, with Sato knowing he is unlikely to get another fight this big if he loses, he will indeed go for it and the fight will be exciting.

If one were to put money on a winner, the cash would have to placed on the champion retaining. Whether or not we see a KO from Sturm remains to be seen though.

Article posted on 19.04.2009

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