WBA middleweight champion Felix Sturm clung to his title tonight in a close battle with Irishman Matthew Macklin in Cologne. The 32 year-old scored his 36th career win with a split decision to defend his belt for the twelfth time since claiming the title in 2006.
Macklin, the younger man by three years started fast, throwing over 80 punches in the first round and kept up the pressure on the champion for the first six rounds. The challenger focused on Sturm’s body for the majority of his attacks and noticeably reddened Sturm’s midriff through the early part of the fight.
‘Leonidas’ was still catching Macklin with classy counters and some of the rounds could easily be scored either way, although Macklin did pressure the home fighter relentlessly throughout the twelve rounds. Sturm changed tactics midway through the fight and tried to take the fight to the outside after the first six rounds were mainly fought close up.
The champion got his jab working and turned the tide on the Birmingham-born challenger, throwing some quality work at Macklin and easily connecting with the cleaner shots of the two. Macklin, under the guidance of trainer Joe Gallagher was sticking to his tactics and kept the pressure on the champion right up until the final bell.
Sturm, sensing the fight was close, went for the knockout in the final round and rocked Macklin with just seconds left and both fighters raised their arms at the signal for the end of the fight. On the scorecards one judge had Macklin a 115-113 winner, with the other two seeing it 116-112 in the champions favour, which was a harsh judgement on Macklin as I had him a 115-114 winner.
The fight was enthralling for the full 36 minutes and calls for a rematch would be greatly recieved with Macklin contesting the decision with Sturm at the end of the fight. Sturm may have a mandatory defence to make first and then maybe at the end of the year we might be lucky enough to have a repeat as Macklin’s trainer suffered his first loss in his 50th fight.
On the undercard, Manuel Charr stopped former world title challenger Danny Williams or ‘DPW’ as he has recently been known, in the seventh round of eight and may now retire after giving the heavyweight scene another go on foreign soil. Charr, 26, moves on to 18-0 and may be looking for a European title shot in the near future.