By Alexey Sukachev
SAP-Arena, Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany - WBA middleweight champion Felix Sturm (36-2-1, 15KOs) fought British/Commonwealth champ Martin Murray (23-0-1, 10KOs) to a twelve round draw. The scores were 116-112 for Sturm, 115-113 for Murray and 114-114 a draw. The fight was filled with close rounds and Murray fought much better than anyone could have expected, although he appeared to be in trouble in the last round when Sturm rallied hard.
Sturm hasn't come this close to losing his title since his 2007 split draw against American Randy Griffin. WBA #3 Murray started faster and took the first round with his quicker punching. Sturm returned the favor in the next three rounds when he landed more significant combinations and did well with good bodypunching.
Murray, 29, turned the tides in the fifth and in the sixth stanzas. At the mid-point of the fight, the action looked to be dead even, which most certainly gives the advantage to the home fighter. As for the fight itself, this bout was too monotonuous to be called exciting, even though both fighters rarely clinched and delivered combinations when needed. However, with both boxers working behind the jab and setting up a tight guard - the spurt-like attacks didn't help the fans much.
The second half of the fight got more interesting when it became obvious that Sturm (36-2-2, 15 KOs) was quickly tiring. He took the seventh on a sheer will but round eight was a big one for the British challenger, who landed a number of crisp combinations and even wobbled Sturm a bit. The rest of the fight was fairly even but Murray was winning his rounds in a clearer fashion except for the last one, when Sturm, 32, delivered one last surge and secured a much needed draw to retain his crown for the eleventh time.
There were no knockdowns and point deductions, but Murray landed several blows south of the border. Hall-of-Fame referee Stanley Christodulou was hit with a backpack (seemingly from one of the British fans) in the tenth for interrupting the action in favor of Felix Sturm.
German WIBA flyweight champion Nadia Raoui (13-1, 3 KOs) retained her title with a one-sided win over Russian veteran Oxana Romanova (7-13-1, 2 KOs). Raoui proved to be a better boxer and a bigger puncher over eight two-minute rounds. There were no knockdowns, and all three judges awarded it to the German: 80-72 (twice) and 79-73.
In a mild upset, German middleweight Florian Wildenhof (12-2, 3 KOs) got a bit of a controversial split decision over crude and strong but technically limited Albanian banger Mike Keta (10-2, 9 KOs) in a classic encounter between a boxer and a brawler. Smaller Keta pressed the action all the time but failed to deliver anything of note. Wildenhof wilted under power of Keta but managed to outbox him and to land more pitty-pat punches than his opponent - his hard blows. BoxingScene scored it a draw: 57-57.
In the TV-opener of the show at the SAP-Arena in Manheim, Germany, two super middleweights fought to a draw over six rounds. Contestants were Patrick Doborschi (11-1-3, 2 KOs) and German Armanian Harut Sahakyan (4-0-1, 1 KO).