By Alexey Sukachev
Koenig Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany - The reign of Felix Sturm (37-3-2, 16KOs) was stopped in a shocker. Daniel Geale (28-1, 15KOs) won a twelve round split decision to unify the WBA/IBF middleweight titles. The scores were 116-112 for Sturm, and two cards of 116-112 for Geale.
It was Geale's third defense of the belt, which he won against Sebstian Sylvester, also in Germany, in May 2011. Sturm was risking his crown for the 13th time since he recaptured it against Javier Castillejo in April 2007.
Geale was much more active in the first, throwing numerous right jabs and checking Sturm's body with crisp punches. The German did well behind his shell guard but rarely came out with attacks of his own.
Sturm started the second stanza much more aggresively, promptly pinning Geale's defense with a series of right hands. The Australian tried to set up his jab but he wasn't very accurate in doing so. Sturm also rocked him momentarily at the end of the round with an overhand right. The German dominated the first two minutes of the third as well before getting caught and slightly dazed by the Australian during the last minute of the stanza after Geale landed a painful combination of shots to the head and the body of the WBA king.
The fourth was very even between the two. Geale started it faster while developing his slight advantage from the previous round. Both boxers continued to push their fights in the fifth. The only difference was that the Australian did it slightly better, mixing fast combos with crisp, annoying jabs. Sturm landed some punches as well but the most notable blows were thrown by Geale. His victory in that round was punctuated with a hard right hand at the very end.
Sturm used a much more patient approach in the sixth, going back to the basics, re-measuring the distance again with his jab. It was the German's round, though Geale took the very end of it with his better workrate. BoxingScene had the fight 58-56 - slightly for Geale at the midway point.
The WBA champion looked to continue his patient, methodical approach in the seventh, and he was able to slow Geale down in the first half of the round, but the Australian turned back the tide in the second half and edged Sturm in the round with his multi-punch combination during the end of the second minute. Geale did his best to dominate his opponent in the eighth. With his greater workrate he was able to hit Sturm from all angles during the first minute of this stanza. Later on, however, Geale got tired while Sturm caught a second wind and connected to Geale's body with an assortment of heavy bombs.
In the ninth, both boxers looked a bit weary after fighting hard for most of the previous rounds. Geale landed at least three hard single right hands throughout the round and appaered to have stolen it.
Sensing his championship reign was in danger, Sturm tried to deliver more heat in the tenth and he did. Geale took too many pauses and looked fatigued, while the German was successful in spurts and looked to be more aggressive. Hot exchanges lit up the championship rounds. Sturm used all of his experience to look sharper in them but Geale was more active down the stretch. Both fighters emptied their fuel tanks to the very limit during the twelfth and final round. The IBF titleholder seemed to be the sharper and (once again) the more active of the two, and both combatants ended the fight with a wild exchange of punches.
Scores were: 116-112 (by Dave Parris of the United Kingdom and Stanley Christodoulou of the RSA) - for Geale, and 112-116 (by Eugene Grant of the United States) - for Sturm. BoxingScene scored the fight 115-113 - for the Australian, and so did BoxNation but a bit closer at 115-114. Referee was Luis Pabon of Puerto Rico.
Sturm suffered his first defeat since 2006. Geale's stock is rising high after this sound success. The winner of the Golovkin - Proksa showdown, which happens later tonight, is the most welcome opponent for the Australian WBA/IBF middleweight champion.
Former German middleweight champion Maurice Weber (16-1-1, 5 KOs) got rid of Belarussian trialhorse Andrey Dolgozhuev (3-3-1, 3 KOs) in the third round. Weber had been punishing his opponent heavily for all eight minutes of the fight before Dolgozhuyev's corner threw in the towel. Interestingly, Weber had already fought the Belarussian before. In April, it took him just two rounds to do the same.
Well-travelled (across the Americas) Peruvian super middleweight veteran Mauricio Reynoso (14-0-1) got a rough welcome in his European debut against little-experienced (just one fight before) Vladimir Kharkevich (1-1, 1 KO). Reynoso, 35, struggled mightily but outpointed his foe unanimously over six.
Former WBA heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev (30-2-1, 19KOs) stopped Werner Kreiskott (12-18-1, 8KOs) in seven rounds. Either from punch or a clash of heads, Chagaev started developing a lot of swelling above his right eye in the third round. In the fifth round, Chagaev landed a hard uppercut to drop Kreiskott. In the final minute of the same round, Chagaev landed a hard shot to the body to drop Kreiskott again.
At the start of the seventh, a left hand dropped Kreiskott hard. The ref quickly waved off the contest, although Kreskott appeared capable of going on.
German WIBA flyweight female champion Nadia Raoui (15-1-1, 3 KOs) retained her crown for a second time, overcoming a stern challenge from ever-aggressive Thai import Samson Tor Buamas (26-3, 11 KOs). Tor Buamas, a WIBA minimumweight titleholder, who jumped two weight classes for the chance to fight on the foreign soil for the first time in her life (save for a short voyage to neighboring Cambodia), pressed the action for all ten two-minute rounds but Raoui, 27, was by far a better and more polished boxer. He outpointhing her Thai opponent from the distance. Raoui's only loss was to well-known flyweight "Killer Queen" Susi Kentikian. Scores were 96-94, 99-92 and 97-93 - for Raoui.
Patrick Dobroschi (12-1-3, 3 KOs) KO 1 Maxim Maximov (3-4-1, 3 KOs)
Mike Keta (12-2, 11 KOs) KO 2 Alexey Volchan (19-15-2, 12 KOs)