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Universum Fires Back at Sturm

Img_0048_mediumAs previously reported, German-based middleweight titlist has made a number of moves lately on the basis that he's a free agent from his promotional company, Universum.  Not only did he sign a ten-fight deal with a competing promoter and television network, but he's hired Freddie Roach as a trainer and has set his sights on unification.  Today, Universum fired back via press release, stating that Sturm is still Universum property and that his final fight would need to be with another Universum fighter, Gennady Golovkin.

Contrary to stories in the press put about by Sturm’s side in the last few weeks, Felix Sturm remains under exclusive contract to Universum. Universum will take any legal steps necessary to ensure that Felix Sturm remains obliged to fulfil his exclusive contract with Universum until 2012, when the contract ends. We will not tolerate his participation in any boxing matches which violate our exclusive contractual rights.

Following Mr Sturm’s rejection of an offer by Universum of a voluntary title defence bout to be fought in November or December 2009, the WBA (World Boxing Association) ruled that Mr Sturm must defend his world champion title in a mandatory title bout by April 2010 at the latest. The official challenger was named by the WBA as Gennady Golovkin, who is currently ranked no. 2 in the world and who is also under contract to Universum. Universum has asked for Mr Sturm’s cooperation in arranging this fight to ensure that it can be carried out in accordance with contractual provisions and with the WBA Rules.

The press release also went on to contain some fluff about how Universum made Felix Sturm what he is today.  But the most interesting aspect of this is that they'll be forcing a Sturm-Golovkin fight.   Sturm hasn't looked unassailable lately.  In his last fight, I thought he was convincingly defeated by Khoren Gevor, only to receive a unanimous decision.  Now, he'll have to face an Olympic silver medalist who's one of the best regarded prospects in Germany.  This may be a bit sooner than Universum wanted Golovkin to step up, but this is their chance to keep the belt in the family.  Also, even though Sturm has become quite the draw in Germany, with Universum clearly backing Golovkin in this fight (since they know Sturm's departure is imminent), don't be too surprised if Sturm doesn't get the benefit of the doubt on the scorecards in this fight. 

Here's one instance where I'll be rooting loudly for Sturm.  Sturm seems to be dead serious about fighting the best in the weight class, which is pretty much the opposite of what Universum has been having him do. Golovkin is probably the better fighter, both now and in the long-term, but if he wins, expect the belt to be hijacked and held in Germany, with numerous defenses against cupcake opponents, rather than making some badly needed big fights in the middleweight division.  Golovkin is likely the first of the new breed of middleweights to get a title shot, but there's no excuse for him not to face some of the other good, exciting, up-and-coming fighters in the weight class.  And if Klaus-Peter Kohl gets his way, that will never happen.  Nobody else knows better how to keep a belt in the family. 

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