By Wolfgang Schiffbauer
Photos by Atheneum Group
On the night his close friend lost the most important fight of his career, Maurice Weber made the fourth successful appearance inside the ring since his comeback from a three-year, injury-related layoff last year. Fighting on the undercard of Felix Sturm’s title unification loss to Australian Daniel Geale, Weber, who entered the ring under the banner of Sturm Box-Promotion, easily dispatched a game but severely outmatched Andrei Dolhozhyieu in three rounds. In 2008, the German suffered a severe hand injury, which could have cost him his professional career. But Weber, who is the reigning German light middleweight champion, never gave up and is now working on his dream to become a big name in boxing. A couple days after his 16th win in his 18th bout (one loss, one draw) in Oberhausen, Germany, FightNews caught up with the talented fighter to talk about his career, the injury and his plans for the future and his friend’s loss to Geale.
FightNews: First, congratulations on your win last week. How do you feel about your performance?
Maurice Weber: I’m very happy about it. I had a great training camp, all went well. I was able to do the things my coach told me to do and that resulted in a clear-cut knockout win.
FightNews: With whom are you working at this moment?
Weber: I’m working with Magomed Schaburow and Joschka Grimm. Joschka is responsible for conditioning and fitness, while Magomed focuses on boxing. Also, the whole Team of Sturm Box-Promotion is doing a great job to help me with my career. Felix is a close friend of mine and I’m very glad that he made my comeback possible. He is a huge part of my success. Then there is David Stasch, CEO of the Atheneum Group. He is my advisor and handles my PR work. I love working with all of them.
FightNews: You had a three-year layoff between 2008 and 2011. What can you tell us about the injury that prevented you from fighting during that time?
Weber: I had a serious hand injury. The extensor tendon in my right hand was torn. After the operation, my hand was unable to regenerate and go back to normal. It just wouldn’t get better and that ended in occupational disability.
FightNews: Did you have any hope of resurrecting your career back then?
Weber: My hand surgeon told me I would never be able to box again. So I only had minimal hope to come back. But in a way, I closed the book on boxing. However, deep inside me I was still hoping I would make it back one day. I kept myself updated about medical innovations and tried to keep my ears open just in case a possibility to heal my hand came around. And I never stopped going to the doctor because I had huge trouble with my hand in my private life as well.
FightNews: What did you do during those three years? Did you still follow boxing?
Weber: At the beginning, I had to distance myself from boxing. I needed that. My last fight before the injury against Frederic Serre was really tough on me. Not only did I suffer the injury but I also lost for the first time as a professional and in my opinion, I was robbed of a victory. I’ve had been in boxing for 15 years at that time and boxing was a huge part of my life. But from one day to another, that part died. Still, I was never able to completely forget about the sport.
FightNews: What made your comeback possible?
Weber: I knew from the beginning that I would return to the ring as soon as the hand was healed. In the meantime, Felix had founded Sturm Box-Promotion and he told me time after time that the door was always open for me and that I could box for him if my hand would ever allow me to step into the ring again. And after my hand was indeed fine again, I immediately took the offer.
FightNews: You have had four fights in eight months since your comeback – is your hand absolutely fine?
Weber: Yes. I still see a doctor on a regular basis to check up on things. Later today, for that matter, I will travel to the Netherlands because the doc who made the comeback possible has his practice in the Netherlands.
FightNews: How do you feel about being a Sturm Box-Promotion fighter?
Weber: It feels amazing. I wouldn’t leave Sturm Box-Promotion for any other promoter in the world. The people here are real professionals. They are based in Cologne, Germany, and that’s my hometown. I love this city. It’s all perfect for me, really.
FightNews: How are your plans for the future?
Weber: We had a lot of talks. Sturm Box-Promotion will do their first show in Germany, without Felix himself fighting, in early November. They did a show in Sarajevo in June, which I headlined. I will be fighting better opposition; the bouts will be scheduled for more rounds. There are plans for a fight in the United States sometimes next year. I seriously can’t wait for the future.
FightNews: Can you tell us more about fighting in the States?
Weber: We talked about that many times and I believe it will happen. That would be a dream for me. The USA is the mecca of boxing, no doubt about it. I would love to showcase myself in front of the American fans.
FightNews: What big step do you hope to take next in your career?
Weber: My next fight, to be honest. Every fight is a big step for me because I handle every fight like a championship in a way. The thing is, I not only step into the ring to win but also to put on a show, to look great. I want to excite the fans.
FightNews: And that could lead to a title bout.
Weber: I sure hope so. And I believe there is no way around that if I keep on winning. We are planning to get international titles. Intercontinental titles, the European title, maybe even a World title. That doesn’t matter. If my management can get me a fight for any title, I’m really, really glad. I just want to prove myself on that level.
FightNews: You’ve had a successful amateur career before turning pro at the age of 24. What can you tell us about your first experience in the professional game?
Weber: Yeah, I was 24. I can’t believe how quick time has passed. I only have good memories about my first steps on the pro stage. I fought for Universum Box-Promotion back in the day and became German champion in my eleventh fight. Everything was perfect before the hand injury. And that happened at the same time as my contract with Universum expired. Today, I’m very happy that I’m not with Universum anymore. I was in Hamburg a couple days ago and talked to my advisor about Universum and I told I’m that I’m perfect in Cologne. The training, the management – everything is more professional at Sturm Box-Promotion. I just feel better here. Universum was kind of a mass production and in my opinion they were immoral and unethical to their athletes. But that came back to them like a boomerang as you can see now. They are pretty much done. Anyway, I’m just happy to be in Cologne, fighting for my friend.
FightNews: Your friend, Felix Sturm, lost his world title in the main event on September 1 against now WBA/IBF champ Daniel Geale. How did you see the fight?
Weber: It was a close fight. It was tremendous battle. And I’m sure nobody would have complained if he had gotten the decision. I tried to score the bout as neutral as possible and I had it like the American judge Eugene Grant, 116-112 for Felix. Grant, by the way, was the IBF appointed judge. The other’s scored the bout 116-112 for Geale. Personally, I believe that Grant focused on the cleaner shots and I think that Felix clearly landed those. But you can’t change that, he lost the fight and that’s it. Felix has a strong personality. He has the will to win, the will to come back. I have no doubt that he will become champion again in a short time. No doubt. Nevertheless, it was extremely disappointing to see him lose such an important fight. It was a shock to us at Team Sturm. But there is something I have to say because he won’t do it since he doesn’t want anyone to think he is looking for an excuse.
FightNews: What would that be?
Weber: Felix was sick in the week before the fight. He suffered from an acute bronchitis but he wanted this fight so bad that he didn’t even think about cancelling it. I mean, it was a rare chance to unify the middleweight division. Like I said, he doesn’t talk about it but I believe it should be told. Despite everything, he came really close to winning and gave a great performance. I just hope there will be a rematch. Not only because Felix could win his title back, but also because it would be a tremendous fight for the fans.
FightNews: You are still the German champion at 154 pounds. Do you plan on defending that title?
Weber: I’m proud to be German champion and I believe it’s not easy to win that title. But I also believe, and I don’t want to sound arrogant here, that we are past the national level. The opponents on that stage won’t help me with my career anymore. Again, I don’t mean to be disrespectful to anyone.
FightNews: Do you follow the sport of boxing outside your own career?
Weber: Sure, a lot. I don’t have a role model or something but I love the skills of some fighters. Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are exceptional fighters; Roy Jones was amazing in his prime. James Toney, I loved watching him in his heyday. He was a great, great fighter. I’m constantly amazed by the stuff some guys can do inside the ring.
FightNews: Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?
Weber: There is a light middleweight in Germany that wants to get to the top, someone, who will do anything in his power to make it in boxing. And that’s me, Maurice Weber.