WBA middleweight champion Felix Sturm fought to a rousing draw in Germany against American challenger Randy Griffin in what was reportedly an all-action fight that had the crowd on its feet in the final rounds.
Sturm (28-2-1, 12 KO) and Griffin (24-1-3, 12 KO) both threw a ton of punches and did little but stand toe-to-toe, with Griffin turning the tide in the seventh round and battling his way to the draw, which could set up a rematch given the positive reaction to the bout. Neither guy is a big puncher, but both had banged-up faces following the bout.
Griffin, a Louisville resident born in Philadelphia, doesn't have an outstanding resume, but drawing with Sturm should raise his profile a fair amount. His other two biggest-name opponents -- James Obede Toney and Yusaf Mack -- also drew with him. His biggest win was probably the one that got him the title shot, against Maselino Masoe. Sturm desires a rematch, saying that Griffin earned it and that he still has something to prove.
Ukrainian heavyweight Taras Bidenko retained the WBC intercontinental heavyweight title with an easy points victory over George Arias on the undercard.
In Ireland, John Duddy may well have set himself up for a January fight with Kelly Pavlik with an easy second round TKO of 19-year old Prince Arron in a fight that no one should give any real credit whatsoever. Arron came in at 10-2, and, again, he's 19 years old. Duddy is now 22-0 with 17 knockouts.
Let's talk about a Pavlik-Duddy fight for a moment here before I move on to the latest adventure in Vic Darchinyan's career. If that fight really goes off -- and the rumors are quite strong now that it will with Pavlik's trainer, Jack Loew, indicating as such -- it just sort of makes all the sense in the world. Jermain Taylor may not want to take an immediate rematch with Pavlik, and instead wait for "The Ghost" to join him at 168 pounds down the line, a move up that he made clear was his plan months ago. Also, we don't know where, exactly, Jermain Taylor's career is at right now. I would bet every dollar I have on Jermain Taylor bouncing back strong from the loss, but a move up to 168 and a serious decision in regard to Emanuel Steward likely means that he wouldn't be as well-prepared for a rematch in January as he would like to be.
And, frankly, I can't see any reason that Jermain Taylor should stay with Emanuel Steward. Steward is a tremendous trainer, and has done great work even recently with Wladimir Klitschko and Kermit Cintron, but the magic just ain't happening with Jermain Taylor and Manny Steward. It hasn't come together. Taylor became a star without Steward. He beat Bernard Hopkins two times without Steward. Since adding Manny, he fought to a draw with Winky Wright, took a predictable win over undersized Kassim Ouma, looked lost at too many points against Cory Spinks, and got knocked out by Kelly Pavlik. The two could probably mutually agree that this isn't working out like they'd hoped.
But, anyway, what does that leave us with? Pavlik and Bob Arum want to keep fighting. I think Arum knows how big of a star Kelly Pavlik can be. So without Taylor, you're looking at these few options:
Winky Wright: Probably doesn't want to fight Pavlik. Wink seems (and I don't want this to sound insulting at all) content to stick with money fights. He earned that a long time ago before anyone was willing to fight him.
Arthur Abraham or Felix Sturm: Notable champions, good fighters, but no name recognition whatsoever in the States past, "Ain't that the dude what got his jaw broken by Miranda?" and "This guy on a blog always says he'll go to his grave saying this Sturm guy beat Oscar." Neither fight makes sense for Pavlik. This is a business.
John Duddy: Has a loyal following on the east coast. He's a flag-waving Irish-American, and God knows the Irish are a great fight demographic. He's entertaining, he's undefeated, and despite that I don't think anyone would pick him to beat Kelly Pavlik, I am pretty certain that Duddy would go in there, fight his fight, and try his damnedest to win. He wouldn't be a guy that shows up to collect his paycheck and take his beating. Plus, really, he's 28. And yeah, he's super protected, but if he's not ready to move up by now, he won't ever be ready. It's not going to wreck his career if something else wasn't going to do it within the next two years anyway.
I initially thought about a week ago that Duddy would be making a big mistake. Having thought about it, though, it probably isn't. What else is he going to do? If you're going to step up in competition, make the most money. His career as at that stage.
I don't think Duddy stands anything more than a big punch chance at beating Kelly Pavlik, but I'd sure as hell watch the fight. Two guys that give you your money's worth almost every time out, in a fight that makes sense for both sides. It's a good payday and I'm fairly certain would have a great crowd. Pavlik's open date (if it's still open) is January 26, probably in Atlantic City.
I'll take Pavlik-Duddy over Pavlik-Mora any day, I'll tell you that much. I loved Dan Rafael's chat quote on "The Latin Fake": "Mora has screwed up his career very badly, and I think he knows it."
And, finally, Vic Darchinyan moved up in weight to take the vacant, useless IBO super flyweight title in a 12th round TKO of Filipino scrub Federico Catubay. Catubay (20-14-3) was down in the seventh and eleventh rounds, and was trailing by gaudy scores at the time of the stoppage: 110-97, 110-97 and 109-98, with Chuck Giampa apparently finding a round to give to the underdog in the middle of it all. How Federico Catubay got a title fight of any kind outside of his kitchen is still a question yet to be answered.