Former 3-Time World Middleweight Champion Felix Sturm is eager to come back after a disappointing and controversial decision loss to Australian Sam Soliman in Dusseldorf, Germany, three weeks ago.
Sturm, who celebrated his 34th birthday on the day before the Soliman bout, has by now re-watched the fight and has a clear opinion on his performance. He also commented on the controversy caused by Team Soliman in the days leading up to the February 1st clash, had words of advice for IBF champion Daniel Geale (who has to to face mandatory challenger Soliman next) and gave an insight into his future.
Felix Sturm on…
…the Soliman fight: “I had a great start but I made a huge mistake in the second when I let him of the hook. He was hurt, I could have and I should have finished him. But I let him back into the fight and gave the decision into the hand of the judges. I’m not happy with my performance, especially in the middle rounds. This was definitely one of the worst showings of my career and I’m mad that I couldn’t translate my training form into the ring. I still think, however, that I won the fight. I had so many fans and experts coming up to me, calling me from all over the world, even from Australia, and telling me that I won it. Overall, I’m not happy with my performance but especially with the knockdown in the second round, there is no doubt in my mind that I won the fight. But I can’t change what happened.”
…referee Mark Nelson: “We advised him before the Soliman often fights dirty. Using his elbow, his head. But he did nothing during the fight. He even said that my cut was caused by a punch. Sam himself admitted it was a headbutt at the post-fight presser.”
…Team Soliman: “In all my years as a professional fighter, I have never seen a team as unprofessional and unfair as Soliman’s. They had new issues every day. They threatened to cancel the fight numerous times in the week leading up to it. I had to take three doping-tests. One eight days before the fight, conducted by the NADA. They wanted to have someone of their camp present for the test, although the NADA is a recognized organization. Then again, they came with the sudden request for another blood test on Tuesday. Make no mistake, I’m a clean fighter and I have no problem with taking doping tests, but they always surprised us with other demands. Pure harassment.
The weigh-in was scheduled at 1 pm on Thursday for days in advance. They knew about the day, they knew about the time. But minutes before we were supposed to step on the scales, they demanded to delay the weigh-in to comply with IBF rules. They knew about the time but the decided to make trouble just minutes before the weigh-in. We soon found out why, since we conducted a show weigh-in for the media at hand. He was one kilogram over the limit. We agreed to make the official weigh-in at 5 pm, his manager shook hands with us. All my people were around for that agreement. At five, no one showed up. Instead, they threatened to cancel the fight again. They finally showed at six, making weight barely. I had to sit around all day and keep the weight. They wanted to annoy us, big time.
But that was far from it. They made trouble about the gloves at the rules meeting and had complains here and there. Like I said, I’ve never seen such an unprofessional and unfair team in my whole life. That is no way to keep the sport clean. This is not an excuse for my performance, though. But I didn’t want to keep their actions for myself.”
…his advice to IBF World Middleweight Champion Daniel Geale, who has to face Sam Soliman next: “He and his team should put everything – from gloves, to ring size, to the weigh-in time, doping tests, everything that seems even slightly important – in the contract before facing Sam Soliman. It will save them a lot of trouble.”
…Sam Soliman, the fighter: “Sam is a great champion. He is not at fault for his team’s behavior. He came back from a huge knockdown and showed a great display of heart. I have the upmost respect for him.”
…his future: “I going through a difficult phase in my career. Maybe it’s the hardest time I’ve ever had. But I have great people around me, a great team. And I know what I’m capable of and I know that I’m far from done in this sport. I promise that I’ll be back.”
…moving up to Super Middleweight: “For now, I’ll stay at 160 pounds. There are many more challenges left I want to take at middleweight. Maybe I’ll move up somewhere down the road, or I’ll do a catchweight fight. But as of now, I’m still a middleweight.”
…his next fight: “I will return this summer. We are working on a big event. But I can’t say much more at this time. We will release more information in the next four to six weeks.”
Photo: Team Sturm