Sturm And Macklin Go To War, Sturm Retains WBA Middleweight Belt With Split Decision

By James Slater: Tonight in Cologne, Germany, fans were treated to a FOTY candidate as local hero Felix Sturm won a close, debatable split decision over a relentless Matthew Macklin. Retaining his WBA middleweight belt, Sturm prevailed by scores of 116-112 twice. The third judge gave it to Macklin by a margin of 115-113.

31-year-old Sturm is now 36-2-1(15). Birminghamís 29-year-old Macklin is now 28-3(19).

In what was a superb fight throughout, with scarcely a break in the compelling action, it was the challenger who got off to a great start. Making things up close and personal for Sturm, Macklin saw to it that the fight became a toe-to-toe, phone booth war in the early to middle rounds. Macklin set the pace, while Sturm showed the edge in class. But, in going to war in the championís chest, Macklin took away Sturmís best weapon: his awesome left jab.

Right from the first bell, the two engaged in even-stevens action, and watching the fight you knew pretty soon that the cards would be fiercely debated when handed in. How could you split the two men with the give and take action taking place?

At times, Sturm snapped Macklinís head back with his left jab and his right uppercut, at other times Macklin pounded Sturmís head and body with both fists. Sturm looked the faster, more accurate fighter; Macklin the more determined, relentless warrior.

By the 6th, it looked to me as though the challenger was in charge, as Sturm looked so tired. But Macklin was now marked up around the right eye and it was Sturm who was landing the eye-catching work.

The two landed simultaneously to the head in the 7th, but Sturm was more hurt. Macklin attacked as Sturm waved his man in whilst on the ropes. Sturm whipped in a good right hand to the head.

In the 8th, Sturm began to dominate as the action took place at long range. At this distance the fight was Sturmís and it looked as though Macklinís early attack had taken its toll on his energy levels. Picking his man off, Sturm was looking like the boss.

There was more classy boxing by Sturm in the 9th, and his jab was looking terrific. A left hand to the body did hurt the older man, however. Macklinís gum-shield also came out in this round, and the pro-Sturm crowd booed.

The 10th was a good round for the champion, as he again picked Macklin off. Some hard head shots landed for Sturm, including a sharp right uppercut. Macklin roared back to head and body, but Sturmís accuracy edged him the session. The championís mouth was now open and bleeding.

Sturm was on top in the 11th, as his jabs and fast combos scored to good effect. But Macklin refused to yield, as he again let both hands go up and down. Sturm threw yet more jabs, but Macklin drove him backwards. The championís right eye began to bleed in this, yet another torrid session.

Both men gave their all in the 12th and final round, as they had done all night. They went punch-for-punch in the last three-minutes, with Macklin shovelling his way in and Sturm picking his spots. There was a big right hand to the head by Sturm and he really went for the finish as Macklin appeared to falter. Macklin raised his hands at the bell.

Itís possible fans will debate just who deserved the win tonight. Macklin won the first half, Sturm the second. It was a case of what you were impressed by: Sturmís class and accuracy, or Macklinís work-rate and drive.

Could these two do it again? As great as tonightís battle was, no fan would complain about the prospect of a sequel.

Article posted on 26.06.2011

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