By Wolfgang Schiffbauer
FightNews caught up with WBA Super World Middleweight Champion Felix Sturm at his training facilities in Cologne, Germany, recently to speak about 2010, Sturm’s first bout as his own promoter in September, the future and the sport itself. You don’t want to miss what the three-time world champion had to say.
FightNews: Now that the year is coming to an end, what was your personal highlight for 2010?
Felix Sturm: I am now self-employed, I don’t have a promoter anymore who tells me how to run things. We did our first fight ourselves and sold-out the biggest indoor arena in Europe. And we could have sold even more tickets, close to 25,000. That was great event and a beautiful evening. Clearly, it was my highlight to be my own boss now. I am finally able to fulfill all my dreams.
Anything negative last year?
Not really. We started and established our business; I am a very proud father since the end of 2009. Things are going really smooth right now. It took some more time than we hoped and was bit more complicated than we thought, but in the end, we got it done.
Sounds like I am talking to a very happy person right now.
You can bet on that.
Let’s talk about your fight against Giovanni Lorenzo in September at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne. Did everything go according to the plan?
Absolutely. Surely, it was our first event and we didn’t have that much time to solve all problems that came up during the preparation but everything went beautifully. I believe the fans loved it. We are really looking forward to the future because we have even bigger things in mind for our upcoming shows.
So you do have some fine-tuning in mind for your next bout at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart on February 19?
We obviously can’t get a bigger arena than in Cologne. But we are looking at a great opponent for Stuttgart and hope to close a deal soon. Besides, we will once again deliver a great event with a spectacular ring entrance and good co-features. We have a lot of great things in mind.
Despite all the rumors, I understood that you won’t face Ricardo Mayorga in Stuttgart?
That’s true. He signed to fight Miguel Cotto. It’s a pity but not even that big a deal. Personally, Mayorga wasn’t my first choice. I was looking at other opponents. But my entourage and the TV station wanted Mayorga because he is a great entertainer and talks a lot. At age 37, the fight against Cotto is his last real big shot at glory. He has to take this chance. I totally understand him.
Is there anything you can tell me about Stuttgart? Any details you can reveal at this point about the event?
In Cologne, Linkin’ Park was supposed to perform but they had to cancel at the last minute. This time, we are hoping for a really big gig. We have Kylie Minogue or Katy Perry in mind. The rest will be done by our TV partner Sat. 1. They want to put on a spectacular show.
Has your preparation for Stuttgart already started?
Yes, we opened training camp and things are going well. I had a three-month rest and I feel great right now. I can’t wait for February.
Thanks to your team, you can focus completely on boxing.
That’s correct. I do the fighting, my team does the rest. And they do a great job. I believe it can’t work any other way. I know what’s happening but I am fully focused on the sport.
Will the American fight fans be able to watch your next fight, either live or on tape-delay?
Sure. I believe ESPN aired my last fight against Lorenzo. There is interest from the American TV stations. After my next fight, we are planning to talk to the American TV people. After all, it is still my dream to have a big fight in the USA.
For example a fight against Sergio Martinez?
Definitely. That would be a fight we’d love to do. The American fans still remember me from my fight against Oscar de la Hoya. Sergio Martinez is the man to beat right now. He clearly beat Paul Williams and Kelly Pavlik. To be the undisputed middleweight champion, you have to defeat Martinez. I’d love this fight.
You mentioned that you would love to have another big fight in the United States.
True. But my next couple fights will be Germany. Sat. 1 wants me to fight over here and I’m absolutely fine with it. I am just 31 years old and have more than enough time left. We plan to make fight in the USA in one, maybe two years. However, if a great opportunity presents itself, I’d certainly be willing to fight in the States earlier.
There are rumors about a rematch against Sebastian Sylvester.
That would be a great fight as well. Everybody believes Sylvester became a better fighter since I first beat him. They believe he could pose a bigger threat to me this time. I honestly don’t agree. I’d even predict a more decisive win for me the second time around. And I am willing to prove it, if we can make this fight happen.
Let’s not forget that it would a title unification. You could add the IBF belt to your WBA title.
I’ll take what I can get. Maybe I will be able to add one or two more belts to my name. But right now I am focused on my next fight. People have to understand that the belt doesn’t make the champion; it’s the other way around. There are great fighters without a belt out there and I would love to face them as well. Just because you are a world champion doesn’t mean you are an exceptionally great fighter. But it is still a great feeling to be a world champion.
Now we have talked about Martinez and Sylvester. What do you think about the other titleholders at middleweight, like WBO champion Dmitry Pirog?
Sturm: He is a very strong guy and difficult to fight. He is very unorthodox and has got technique. To beat him, you have to bring your A game. But it’s a great challenge to face any world champion.
FightNews: The WBA has three champions right now. You are the super champion, but Gennady Golovkin owns the regular belt and Hassan N’Jam N’Dikam the interim one. Do you have an idea what the WBA is planning?
I believe I have some time to make a mandatory defense. I don’t worry about that right now. If a fight against either one of them interests me, I will do it anyway. Has nothing to do with a mandatory defense. Right now, there are more interesting fights for me out there. They need to face each other first.
You want to stay at middleweight, right?
Sure. This weight class has a great history. Heck, the greatest round of all-time happened at middleweight. There have been great champions like Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard, Hopkins or Trinidad and many, many more. I feel great at middleweight and will stay there. It’s perfect for me.
Do you want promote other shows under the Sturm Box-Promotion banner in 2011 or just your own fights?
I’ve heard a lot of speculations but I don’t want to be a part of that. If we want to do something like this, we will let the public know as soon as everything is signed and certain.
You were spotted ringside at Marco Huck’s last fight against Denis Lebedev in Berlin. Many viewers felt Huck lost the fight and got a controversial decision. What are your thoughts?
The buzz reminds me a bit of my fight against de la Hoya. I believe it was a close fight and Huck had the home advantage. You can make a case for Lebedev winning the bout. He would have gotten the nod in Russia, no doubt about it. But I believe the best thing to do would be a rematch on neutral soil, like they did it with the Carl Froch-Arthur Abraham fight. If they do that, we will see what happens.
For years, there have been talks about a mega-bout between Abraham and yourself. What do you think of his decision to stay in the Super-Six and face Andre Ward after two devastating losses in a row?
I really can’t say much about what Abraham should or shouldn’t do. But he is a part of the tournament and I believe it’s the honorable thing to do to face Ward and not to quit. I don’t believe he has a shot at beating Ward but in boxing, nothing is impossible. Abraham could win by landing one big punch. Who knows?
Did you see Bernard Hopkins’ performance against Jean Pascal?
Unfortunately I didn’t see the fight but I have read a lot about it. Bernard is a realist. If he felt he won, I believe him. Therefore, it’s sad that he did not get the decision. I truly hope for a rematch but I’m not sure Pascal will want it. Hopkins is a great boxer who can read other fighters like almost nobody else can. He will make you look bad and I’ve heard he made Pascal look bad. It’s a pity for Bernard because he is really a great guy and a great champion.
Hopkins is 45 years old and still one of the top-fighters in the world. Can you imagine yourself in the ring in your forties?
No, I won’t fight as long as Bernard. He loves boxing and so do I. But I’m a family man and I promised my wife to retire in four or five years. You have to know when it’s time to quit. You can’t be in this game forever. Too many great fighters have fought long after their primes and took unnecessary punishment. You need to make space for the next generation. In five years, I’ll be in boxing for 25 years. I believe that is more than enough for one lifetime.
Any closing comment?
Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and I hope that we can provide some great fights in 2011.