Felix Sturm will face Daniel Geale on September 1 in Germany, unifying the WBA and IBF middleweight titles. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Middleweight titleholders Felix Sturm and Daniel Geale will unify their WBA and IBF belts on September 1 in Germany, in what will be one of the most significant fights of Sturm's career, and definitely the biggest to date for Australia's Geale.
Sturm (37-2-2, 16 KO) had a rough 2011, with a disputed win over Matthew Macklin and a draw with Martin Murray (as well as a win over Ronald Hearns that meant little), but he started his 2012 campaign with an impressive thrashing of Sebastian Zbik on April 13.
Geale (27-1, 15 KO) picked up the IBF belt in Germany with a clear decision win over Sebastian Sylvester in May 2011, and has since defended twice in Australia against Osumanu Adama and Eromosele Albert. Both wins were of the victory lap variety, but there's no question that Geale is a talented boxer who can hold his own with just about anyone out there at 160 pounds.
In short, this is a damn good fight between two legit top fighters at 160 pounds, who both happen to also hold titles.
The 31-year-old Geale said just a few weeks back that if a proposed fight with WBO titlist Dmitry Pirog fell through -- which it did, of course, when the WBO rejected the idea -- he would target Sturm and Martin Murray. Actually landing the bout with Sturm says a lot for both men right now. Sturm has no real need to take tough tests, as he promotes himself and makes a lot of money. Geale could have likely taken a few more fights like the Adama and Albert bouts if he wanted to.
Instead, both are taking a risk. You can't argue with that. And we'll see someone emerge as the true No. 2 in the division, most likely. For once, a fighter wasn't just saying what he thought people wanted to hear, and neither was his promoter.
"I'm truly thankful to be fighting in this unification bout with Felix Sturm," Geale said via press release. "My promoter Gary Shaw has promised me the biggest fights and he's kept his word. Fighting in Germany is a very difficult task, but I was successful there once before when I captured my first world title against Sebastian Sylvester. My goal will be to beat Sturm in his homeland, and bring his title back to Australia once again. I'm fighting for my country and all the kids I train at the Grange Old School Boxing gym.
"I also want to thank my managers Garrie Fransisco and Billy Treacy who, in conjunction with my trainer Graham Shaw, have all worked hard to get me to the top. Right now I'm in the best shape of my life and Graham has seen the improvements in my ability to make adjustments in the ring. I'm fully prepared to give the fans an exciting fight when I step in the ring with Sturm."
Shaw added, "This event is what boxing is all about. When you get two world champions agreeing to fight each other with no hesitation, you know the fans are going to be witnessing an unbelievable bout. Both guys are hungry to keep their titles and they're going to leave everything in the ring. Words can't describe how excited I am about this event. Geale and Sturm are true warriors who are going to "Bring It" come fight night. It's going to be an incredible night of boxing. The true winners will be the fans."
Sturm, for his part, is happy to be fighting Geale, but doesn't plan a nice "welcome back" party in Germany.
"Fighting in my native land of Germany is incredible and I can't wait to show the German fans, once again, what I'm made of," stated Sturm. "Daniel Geale is a worthy opponent, but he's never been in the ring with a fighter like me. I fight for the people of Germany and I'm not going to let them down! I will be victorious on Sept. 1."