Felix Sturm and Matthew Macklin surpassed just about all expectations today in Germany with a 12-round phone booth war, which went to Sturm on scores of 116-112, 116-112 and 113-115, a split decision that let him retain his WBA middleweight title. Bad Left Hook scored the fight 115-114 for Sturm. Jim Watt of Sky Sports had it 114-114.
Almost all of the rounds were close, with Macklin starting with an exceptional pace and some great body work. But over the course of the fight, Sturm came alive, dug down deep, and fired back with a lot of quality work, winning tight rounds because he seemed to be the harder puncher.
There will be -- and have been -- the usual cries of robbery because this was on German soil, but I just can't find the outrage to call this a robbery. It was an extremely close fight I could have seen going to either man. Had it been in the UK, Macklin likely would have nicked the fight by the same scores. The fight was hotly contested, a great watch, and both fighters proved their quality.
As for Sturm (36-2-1, 15 KO), let me say this: I think he's become underappreciated. Some of that is the fact that in the past (Khoren Gevor) he has benefited from bad judging. There is also the knee-jerk assumption that all fights in Germany are going to be robberies in favor of the German fighter against a visitor. But re-watch this fight and tell me he's not a legitimately good fighter. He was put to the test in a big way by Macklin (28-3, 19 KO), and he answered the call.
Sturm also said after the fight that he'd be up for a rematch with Macklin by the end of the year. If that happens, good. Macklin earned another crack and there's not exactly a wealth of great challengers at 160 right now, plus Sturm left to his own devices picks up fights like Ronald Hearns, so, aw beans, I took a shot at Sturm when I'm trying to be kind to him.
Bottom line is it was a great fight and I just plain cannot see calling this a robbery. The worst cards I saw anywhere online were pro-Macklin by scores of 118-110 or so. That's far more insane than 8-4 Sturm, in my view.
We'll have more live coverage coming tonight with the Alexander vs Matthysse card on HBO Boxing After Dark starting at 9:45 pm EDT.