by Johnny Walker
Australia’s Daniel Geale staged an upset today at the Koenig Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen, Germany, defeating Felix Sturm by split decision to unify the WBA “Super” middleweight and IBF middleweight titles.
The bout was a see-saw, tenacious affair, and difficult to score. Neither fighter was ever badly hurt or in trouble, though Geale was able to back Sturm up and force him to the ropes on a couple of occasions. But overall, Geale outworked the German, and Sturm didn’t land enough in the way of clean, hard punches in response to pull two of the judges over to his side.
The fight seemed extremely close as it entered the tenth round, when Sturm appeared to turn the tide in his favor, doubling and tripling up on his jab and scoring with some big right hands. Sturm was desperate to keep the momentum going in the penultimate round, but as he had most of the night, Geale provided some spirited resistance, despite being hit by more hard right hands to the head and the body.
In the final frame, Sturm pumped rapid-fire, piston-like left jabs into Geale’s face and scored with hard body shots. Both men were flurrying desperately as the fight came to a close.
The scores were identical, 116-112, with two of the judges siding with Geale (28-1, 15KOs) and one with Sturm (37-3-2, 16KOs).
Sturm, who had seemed more preoccupied with his domestic rival Arthur Abraham than with Geale leading up to this fight, and who was missing the services of his trainer Fritz Sdunek (who was busy working with Vitali Klitschko) during training camp, will now have to reassess his career, while Geale moves on to bigger and better things.
In an earlier fight, former WBA world heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev (30-2-1, 19KOs) stopped a game Werner Kreiskott in a stay busy match as he looks toward a possible meeting with rising Anglo-Irish contender Tyson Fury.
Chagaev, who sustained a nasty contusion over his right eye early in the fight, dropped the German in round five with a nice combination finished off by an uppercut, and later in the same round dropped him again with a vicious body shot.
After Chagaev floored his opponent again in round seven with a hard left hand, referee Arnold Golger decided he’d seen enough, and Chagaev was declared the winner by a TKO.