Daniel Geale went to Germany in May 2011 and won his first major title, beating Sebastian Sylvester to claim the IBF middleweight belt. Today, he went back, and history repeated itself, as Geale won on the road in Germany against Felix Sturm to unify his IBF belt with Sturm's WBA title, winning a split decision in Oberhausen.
Scores were 116-112 twice for Geale, and 116-112 for Sturm. Bad Left Hook scored the fight 115-113 for Geale.
Geale and Sturm fought the majority of the bout on relatively even terms, with nearly every round close enough that it could have gone either way. The Aussie did hurt Sturm in the third round, and had him covering up and backing down, but couldn't do enough to put him away, and after that, neither fighter was in any real trouble again.
Workrate was probably what tipped two cards in Geale's favor, as he was able to simply look more impressive than Sturm a lot of the time. Sturm had to gut his way through this one, the way he did last year against Matthew Macklin and Martin Murray, but this time he couldn't escape.
Geale (28-1, 15 KO) has now staked his spot, at least temporarily, as the clear No. 2 man in the middleweight division. For Sturm (37-3-2, 16 KO), it's got to be a tough pill to swallow. He fought hard, at times fought well, but he has pretty obviously lost a step. The fact that he has to get into these physically demanding battles now says that as much as anything does. And the fact that he's tough enough to survive them on his feet, with pride, says a lot about the kind of fighter he really is, too.
Congratulations to Daniel Geale, who has risen through the ranks, proven himself on the road in arguably the toughest country in the world for a visiting fighter to win, and is now holder of two major middleweight titles. He's earned his way to this spot. It was a good fight, evenly matched, and hunting for controversy on the scorecards just isn't up my alley at the moment. I'm fine with what we saw today.
Sturm, who also promoted this event, must have spent about $25 on the undercard, as it was uneventful to say the last. The WIBA flyweight title match between Nadia Raoui was solid, though, as she defeated Samson Tor Buamas to retain her belt by unanimous decision over 10 rounds.
Ruslan Chagaev (30-2-1, 19 KO) was again sloppy and unimpressive, stopping Werner Kreiskott (12-19-1, 8 KO) in the seventh round of a pretty dreadful tune-up display. There has been talk of Chagaev facing Tyson Fury late this year, and while I know it's easy to dismiss Fury as a hype job, I personally can't see Chagaev even being particularly competitive with him. There seems to be a mental spark lacking in Ruslan in recent years, and it's been a long time since he's actually looked good in a fight.