Giovanni Lorenzo takes his second shot at a middleweight belt when he faces Felix Sturm on Saturday. (Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images)
There's nothing major on U.S. television this weekend in boxing, but there is a trio of alphabet belt fights happening overseas, all of which have their interesting points. For a complete look at the weekend's televised fight schedule, click here.
Middleweights - 12 Rounds
Felix Sturm v. Giovanni Lorenzo
Sturm, now 31, hasn't fought in 14 months, since a shaky, disputed decision win over Khoren Gevor last year. In the meantime, he's squabbled with now-former promoter Universum, reportedly buying out his contract and decided to go it solo. This Saturday marks his first fight as a promoter under the Sturm Promotions banner, taking on New York's Lorenzo at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany.
Sturm (33-2-1, 14 KO) has absorbed a lot of criticism since his 2007 rematch win over Javier Castillejo. Since then, he's faced and defended his belt against Noe Gonzalez Alcoba, Jamie Pittman, Randy Griffin (twice), Sebastian Sylvester, Koji Sato and Gevor. Alcoba, Pittman and Sato put a lot of heat on Sturm for picking off easy, unqualified opponents, and before unknown American Griffin proved out in the first bout (an entertaining draw), that one took some lumps, too.
But Sturm, remember, was promoted by Universum, a company well-known for not matching its fighters tough, a reputation which has played a part in seeing Sergiy Dzinziruk also leave the company. Both Dzinziruk and Sturm have gotten free from Universum a little later than we all might have liked, but with Sturm taking a legitimate if unspectacular opponent and Dzinziruk now fighting in the States, I think it's safe to say they probably weren't any happier with weak matchups, undelivered promises, and whatever else than boxing fans were.
Lorenzo (29-2, 21 KO) is not a stud, but the Dominican-born fighter can punch, and is the best puncher Sturm has faced in years. He's lost close decisions to Raul Marquez and Sebastian Sylvester, costing him a shot at Arthur Abraham and the vacant IBF belt, respectively. Nothing about him will make anyone say "wow," but he's got enough power to hurt Sturm, and the aggressiveness to pounce if that does happen. He still doesn't have a signature W, and Sturm could be that guy.
But Sturm also is simply a much more well-rounded fighter. Despite a fairly weak KO rate, Sturm is not feather-fisted, and for boxing skills, he trumps Lorenzo easily. A couple years ago, I'd have picked Sturm -- who I felt was underrated and didn't get enough respect at the time -- to easily outbox Lorenzo, barely breaking a sweat in the process. Now, I still think that if rust isn't a huge factor, he'll outbox Lorenzo. But I do have more doubts than I would have before Sturm turned 30 and lost a year of his career to promoter disputes. Sturm UD-12
Super Featherweights - 12 Rounds
Roman Martinez v. Ricky Burns
It's good to have Sky Sports back on the boxing schedule for the coming weeks, with a nice slate of fights coming up. This one won't be competitive, I don't believe, unless Martinez is completely looking past Burns. Martinez (24-0-1, 15 KO) is better at everything than Burns (28-2, 7 KO), who is certainly not a bad fighter, but there's a really good argument that Martinez is the best in the world at 130. I see this as a typical "in too deep" fight for the U.K.-based fighter, similar to what we saw earlier this year when Michael Katsidis overwhelmed Kevin Mitchell. Dave Oakes of The Boxing Bulletin has a deeper preview of the bout, but I'll just say that I don't see this being much of a fight at all when all is said and done, though it won't be for lack of effort from Burns. Martinez TKO-6
Welterweights - 12 Rounds
Jan Zaveck v. Rafal Jackiewicz (Rematch)
Zaveck isn't particularly good, despite holding the IBF belt. Jackiewicz isn't particularly good, either. But they're both solid veterans who know how to fight, and their first bout in 2008 was an entertaining affair. I wouldn't bet so much as a clipped fingernail on who wins this fight, honestly. Jackiewicz had the '08 fight on his turf in Poland, and now Zaveck has home field in Slovenia. Of the three biggest fights this weekend, this is the front-runner to be the best fight in terms of action. Jackiewicz SD-12