By Wolfgang Schiffbauer
Photos by Team Sturm
The middleweight division will really heat up this fall. First, on August 25, undefeated WBO world champion Dmitry Pirog will face fellow unbeaten WBA regular titleholder Gennady Golovkin at a site to be determined in the United States. On September 15, undisputed middleweight king Sergio Martinez will battle it out with long-time rival and WBC beltholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in Las Vegas.
Today, in Oberhausen, Germany, the third middleweight mega-fight was announced. Long reigning WBA super world 160-pound champion Felix Sturm (37-2-2, 16 KOs) will not only make the thirteenth defense of his strap, but also try to add the IBF title to his collection when he collides with the once-beaten kingpin of that organization, the Australian Daniel Geale (27-1, 15 KOs). There was a conflict about the exact date and venue, but all that is resolved now, as the pair will meet inside the ring at the Koenig Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen on September 1.
At the first presser earlier today, Sturm expressed his excitement about his first chance at unifying the middleweight division after already winning a portion of the crown three times. “This will be the biggest fight of my career”, the 33-years old Sturm, who is fighting and training out of Cologne, Germany, told the assembled press. “And believe me, I’m confident that I will not only keep my title but add another one to my name. This fight is a dream coming true.”
Daniel Geale, however, promised to give his all to add another world title to his resume as well. The IBF champ is two years younger than his foe, but has significantly less experience, turning pro in 2004, the year when Sturm first busted onto the international scene with his much discussed and controversial decision loss against the legendary Oscar de la Hoya in Las Vegas. “No doubt, he is the best opponent of my career so far,” Geale stated. “But this is a once-in-a-lifetime shot at unifying two world titles. I’m motivated like never before and I’m really excited about facing one of the best fighters at middleweight.”
In contrary to Sturm’s last fight against Sebastian Zbik, which the WBA champ won via decisive technical knockout, both fighters refrained from using big words to diminish the other. “It will be a huge challenge to beat him. He is a great fighter”, Sturm said about Geale. “But I proved what I’m worth in my last fight against Zbik and I promise that I will be even better this time around.” In order to be successful on September 1, Sturm picked up training two weeks ago, making his camp a ten-week affair. “It is already going very well inside the gym. I know what I have to do and I will put in all the necessary work to prevail in September.” When asked about other possible unification fights against the likes of Martinez or Chavez, Sturm quickly told the press that he is “focused only on Geale. I have to beat him first before thinking about anything else.”
For the Australian IBF king it will be the second trip to Germany. He won his world title in May of last year against hometown hero Sebastian Sylvester in Neubrandenburg. Geale dominated the defending titlelist over a large portion of their battle and grabbed the belt with a deserving split decision win. “Going to Germany is not a problem for me at all. It won’t be an excuse. I proved that before and I will prove it again,” he said.
For Sturm it will be the third time he fights in the city of Oberhausen. And both of those previous bouts marked big victories in his career. First, he avenged his upset loss against Spaniard Javier Castillejo by unanimous decision in April 2007. The win started his current WBA title reign as well. Second, he outclassed Sylvester in a German mega fight in November 2008. “I’m glad to be back in Oberhausen and I hope to add another chapter to my career in this town,” Sturm said to conclude the presser.