Sam Soliman pulled the upset over Felix Sturm today in Dusseldorf, winning a close decision to earn a shot at Daniel Geale and the IBF middleweight title.
Michael Buffer may have messed up the announcement, but the decision came clear after the confusion. Sam Soliman scored the upset today in Dusseldorf, Germany, beating Felix Sturm on scores of 116-111, 114-113, and 114-113, to earn a shot at the IBF middleweight title held by fellow Australian Daniel Geale. BLH had it 114-113 for Soliman.
Buffer originally announced Sturm as the winner, but quickly corrected himself. It took the audience a moment to really react to the sudden reversal, at which point they were shocked by the decision, as was BoxNation's Steve Bunce, but Sturm didn't show any major signs of feeling he'd been robbed, though we didn't get to hear his post-fight comments, either.
Soliman (43-11, 17 KO) had a rough start, as Sturm (37-4-2, 16 KO) came blazing out of the gates, landing hard right hand counters at will in the opening three or four rounds, and scoring a knockdown on a bomb shot in the second frame. But Soliman kept to his game plan, with his awkward motion giving Sturm fits as the fight wore on, and Sturm's own gas tank betraying him a bit as he struggled to keep the pace with the always-moving Aussie.
As Sturm's defense loosened, Soliman found more of his efforts rewarding, as he broke through the gloves and landed clean shots, outworking Sturm routinely, as the home fighter's output dropped considerably from where it started. There is certainly an argument that Sturm won this fight, but it was extremely close either way, and I would definitely argue that 116-111 for Soliman was a wide score.
Soliman, 39, will now get one more chance to win a world title. Geale should be a major favorite against the veteran whenever that fight happens, but it's a good all-Aussie fight that should bring some money and attention to both of them at home.
As for Sturm, he's 34 now and clearly well past his best. This is two straight losses on the cards at home in Germany to visiting fighters, and it may be time for him to wonder where he stands in the sport. It seems incredibly unlikely that he'll be competing at the top levels again, but plenty of worse veteran fighters stay on in the sport in far worse shape. Sturm has hit his wall, but that doesn't mean he's done.