By Wolfgang Schiffbauer
Their April 13 fight is billed as “Bad Blood” and bad blood it was when WBA Super World Middleweight Champion Felix Sturm, 33, and former WBC World Middleweight Champion Sebastian Zbik, 29, came face-to-face for the first time at today’s press conference at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany, the venue of their fight. After the usual introductions, Zbik (30-1, 10 KOs) took the stage: “I’m glad to be here. It was about time that Felix grew some balls and took this challenge. I’m a real fighter and come April 13, I’ll win the championship.”
Sturm (36-2-2, 16 KOs) responded quickly: “Well, I’m happy that you finally grew some balls.” He then looked at Zbik and continued: “Tell me again how you became a world champion? You won the interim title, right? Which is nothing more than a Mickey Mouse title. And whom did you beat to become the full champ? No one, right. They awarded you the title. And well, you lost it again in your very first defense. So why do you disrespect me and my former opponents?”
A heated exchange of words followed, with both fighters talking about respect and criticism. “You can’t take criticism, you just can’t handle it”, said Zbik. Sturm countered: “If I can’t handle it, you can’t either. I just said the truth about your reign as WBC titleholder and you didn’t take that well at all.” The tension rose as both fighters continued to talk to each other for a while, but the presser stayed civilized, even though the genuine dislike between Sturm and Zbik became obvious.
When it was time for the journalists to ask their questions, the first one that arose was if the argument between the fighters was staged. “No, in no way. I can promise you it wasn’t staged. We don’t even need to talk about that”, Zbik answered and Sturm added: “I said what I had to say. Nothing else.” Later, both offered respect for the skillset of their opponent. “He is a very fine boxer, very skilled. And I believe his coach, the great Artur Grigorian, will have him more than ready. But still, he won’t be able to overcome me”, said the WBA champ.
Adding fuel to the fire is the fact, that Sturm and Zbik were former stablemates. Sturm parted ways with Universum Box-Promotions a couple years ago to promote himself, while Zbik is still with Universum. Also, Zbik’s former coach Fritz Sdunek now trains Sturm and vice versa, Zbik will work with the champion’s former trainer Michael Timm.
Tickets for the German mega-fight are already on sale and can be bought through www.eventim.de and www.koelnticket.de. Prices start at 35 Euro. The 19.500 seats Lanxess Arena expects another sold-out crowd for Sturm vs. Zbik. The champion, who is living in Cologne, has previously fought twice at the arena, selling it out both times against Giovanni Lorenzo and Matthew Macklin.