Sturm - Castillejo: Will Felix Show More Fire In the Ring?

14.07.06 - By TJ Swanagan: Felix Sturm, 27, the WBA Middleweight champion, will defend his title against Javier Castillejo (60-6, 40 KO's) on Saturday night at the Color Line Arena, in Hamburg, Germany. Sturm 25-1, 11 KO's) is coming off a poor performance against Maselino Masoe, where, despite Sturm getting the win by 12-round decision, he looked timid in the later rounds of the right, running from Masoe rather than engaging with his overmatched opponent. It wasn't pretty, seeing as how Sturm had boxed circles around Masoe all fight long, yet even with his total dominance, Sturm seemed reluctant to mix it up.. The German fans were bitterly disappointed, and let their feelings show by showering Sturm with a loud chorus of boos in the 12th round of the fight, which largely unnoticed by Sturm, who gleefully continued to run from Masoe.

Hopefully, this time, Sturm shows more aggression against Castillejo, a 38-year-old Spaniard with little power, as the German crowd will likely be poised to give Sturm an encore of more boos if he continues to run like in his previous bout.

From Sturm's standpoint, I can't entirely blame him for fighting safely, because he has an outstanding jab, quite possibly the best in the entire middleweight division, and he doesn't need to take risks by getting in close trading shots with his opponents. Still, it's a turnoff for many fans, many of who come to expect their fighters to get in the thick of things and let their fists fly. What makes matters worse, however, is that Sturm doesn't really have much power to speak of, so even when he is landing with hooks and overhand rights, he isn't doing much damage to his opponents. Nevertheless, Sturm will likely attempt to look impressive against Castillejo. As it turns out, lucky for Sturm, Castillejo is the perfect opponent to take chances with, because he lacks knockout power and isn't much of a threat, other than in a boxing sense.

Oddly enough, for a fighter with a record as good as Sturm's, he's not too well thought of in the boxing message boards on the Internet, as I often read descriptions of him being bit of dandy or fop, one who is overly concerned with his dress and appearance. This, I assume, could possibly contribute to the belief that he's afraid to mix it up, perhaps fearing that his face might be altered or disfigured by a hard punch. Again, I can't blame Sturm, if he wants to avoid getting his face punched in, for a fighter's looks certainly help with selling tickets, I would imagine, at least with a segment of the population. However, this is boxing, after all, and it requires that a fighter be able to sustain punishment to the face, regardless of how badly it may change ones features. Like the old saying, "It goes with the trade."

Despite Sturmís poor showing in his last fight, at this point, Felix Sturm would have to be considered to be one of the best middleweights in the division, possibly in the top 5, overall. Personally, I consider him to be undefeated, as he thoroughly beat Oscar De La Hoya in their fight in June 2004, in my opinion. The fight wasn't even close, believe me, for Sturm jabbed De La Hoya's face silly, turning his face into a read and swollen mask. For whatever the reason, De La Hoya was given the decision, yet it was Sturm who seemed to carry the fight by a wide margin. Since then, however, Sturm, instead of using his momentum and taking on another top fighter, opted to fight Robert Frazier for the little known WBO Inter-Continental Middleweight Title, a fight that Sturm won by 12-round decision. Incredibly, Sturm then defended the title three times, beating Hacine Cherifi, Bert Schenk, and Jorge Sendra.

It would seem, based on these fights that Sturm was electing to steer his career into safe bouts, against opponents that weren't much of a threat to him. Even in with Maselino Masoe, previously the WBA middleweight champion, it would appear that Sturm elected for the path of least resistance. A better opponent, based on my perspective, would be someone like Arthur Abraham, the IBF middleweight champion, or Jermain Taylor, the WBO, WBA and WBC middleweight champion. If Sturm had fought either of those two fighters, I would have been impressed with him, although I doubt seriously that he would have won either fight.

Before I go any further, let me say this, don't expect a surprise upset by Javier Castillejo. He's 38-years-old, and hasn't beaten a quality opponent in 4 years, since winning a questionable decision over Roman Karmazin. Following that fight, Castillejo fought a string of mostly unknown fighters in Spain, before losing a 10-round decision to Fernando Vargas in August 2005. The fight wasn't close, and it was only a question of whether or not Vargas would stop Castillejo, who appeared to be a punching bag with arms for Vargas.

Tomorrow night, I expect Sturm to attempt to end the fight early against Castillejo. However, I don't see it happening, seeing that Castillejo can take a tremendous amount of punishment, and is quite capable defensively at avoiding big shots. Although, I don't put Sturm in the same class as middleweights, such as Winky Wright, Jermain Taylor, Arthur Abraham or Edison Miranda, I think Sturm's more than good enough to beat Javier Castillejo. Prediction: Sturm by 12-round decision.

Article posted on 15.07.2006

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