By Wolfgang Schiffbauer
On April 25, Felix Sturm will defend his WBA middleweight title for the sixth time against hard-hitting Koji Sato from Japan. Sturm, at age 30, is already a three-time world champion at middleweight, winning the WBO belt in 2003, just to lose it in very controversial fashion one year later against legendary Oscar De La Hoya. His second world title came in 2006, when he scored a unanimous decision over Masolino Masoe to seize the WBA title for the first time. Just four months later, he lost a huge upset to ex-champion Javier Castillejo. Sturm recaptured the WBA belt in 2007 with a clear cut unanimous decision victory over Castillejo in their rematch, silencing his critics. Since then, Sturm went on to beat the likes of Randy Griffin or Sebastian Sylvester to cement his status as one of the best middleweights in the world. Fightnews had a chance to visit Sturm in his training camp in Cologne, Germany, and ask him about Koji Sato, his future, a possible fight with IBF-champ Arthur Abraham and his training regime.
We just had the pleasure to watch some of your training and heard that you are in camp for twelve weeks. How long do you work on strength and conditioning like we just saw?
We are doing it until the week before the fight but at the end we are hitting the weights moderatly. For the first eight weeks, strenght and conditioning is a huge part and it gets harder and harder. Afterwards it lessens a bit. We know what we have to work on and what not. Our training camp focuses a lot on stamina, long runs, a lot of boxing, a lot of work with cuffs over long distances. Sometimes we are working for three hours in one session.
Sparring starts next week I’ve heard?
Yes, on Monday.
Can you tell us the name of your sparring partners?
Sure, my main sparring partner will be Lolenga Mock, because he is a very strong and powerful sparring partner. But there will be two or three more.
Your opponent will be Koji Sato. What do you know about him?
He does not look very filigree but with only 14 fights he is very calm and waits for the one punch. You have to be quick, try to put pressure on him for twelve rounds and be careful for the whole fight.
I watched some of his bouts and I saw a strong body attack by him, do you try to prepare for such things specially?
Sure, we are trying to prepare a couple things but I have to see how he goes into the fight and try to figure out his game plan in the first two or three rounds and see how it plays out. I’m trying to do what I planned to and see how the fight goes on.
You just turned 30 and I’ve heard you don’t wanna do a Bernard Hopkins and box until you are 44.
No, that is to long.
So what are your plans for the future, how long do you want to go on?
I’m targeting five more years. But I don’t know, there might be a sixth or a seventh year. Boxing is a lot of fun to me and my accomplishments are motivating me as well. Let’s see how things develope. I’m open minded about many things and if it continues to work well and if my body keeps up then I’d like to keep on boxing for quite a while.
What do you want to archieve in boxing from this point on? You are already a three-time world champion which does not happen to often.
I’d love to have a title unification bout but first I hope to win on the 25th and afterwards I will see what the future arises. But it is certainly my target to unifie the belts, maybe all the belts. I might move up in weight, maybe even two weight-classes as I get older. As far as I know, we only had two-divison champions in Germany but never a three-division champion. Maybe something like that. But I believe I will decide that when the time is right spontaneously like I always do.
There was a lot of talk about a possible Abraham fight, offers have been discussed in press. Some believe they were real, some do not. Were there ever any official talks about a unification battle between you and Arthur Abraham?
No, there weren’t any official negotiations. In my opinion, if you really want a fight then you don’t need to send a fax to one of the biggest German newspapers first. I think they only wanted the attention, trying to push somebody, looking for headlines. If you really want a fight to happen you can sit down together, be as professional as the counterparty, make a call saying that you wanna do the fight, tell what you are offering and ask for a meeting. But I believe it is plain stupid to go public first and send an offer to a newspaper. The reaction can’t be positive and everybody should know that. It doesn’t work that way. I always wanted that fight, that’s a fact. And I still want it, it would be a dream come true for me, anytime. There was a lot of discussion about the Sebastian Sylvester fight, that it could be close and dangerous for me. But I proved that it wasn’t dangerous for me, that it wasn’t close, and everybody saw what level I am on. And I’d really like to show that to Arthur Abraham, too. But that is not in my powers, I’m a fighter, I do what my promoter tells me. If he says we can do this fight, I’m telling him “Yes, for sure”. I take every fight, it doesn’t matter if it’s against Arthur Abraham or anyone else. I would fight every opponent, no matter who he is. I’m ready for it. It’s a champion’s job not to pick the fights but to fight everybody in line, including Arthur Abraham. But I really don’t care about that anymore because I know they only want the attention, they have this one star and they are trying to push him as much as possible. I understand that. But there actions were pathetic, they wanted to make me look bad. There have been lies, which is unprofessional and a sign of a weak character.
Your next mandatory challenger is Anthony Mundine. Are there any plans for that kind of match-up already? Do you want to fight Mundine?
Yes, sure. Mundine is a great boxer, he was a world champion at super middleweight and fought really strong opponents. He is really strong and it will be a great challenge. It would be a great fight for the fans as well. If everything goes well against Koji Sato, I’m hoping to fight Mundine in summer or at the end of the year. I’m really excited about this, it would be a very interesting task and spectacular fight for the both of us .
One more, non-boxing question at the end: On the official poster we see that you are wearing Calvin Klein trunks. Is a new sponsoring deal on the horizon?
We are working on something and I believe there will be a press release in two or three days with more information.
Thank you for the interview, Felix.
Thank you. Anytime.