Felix Sturm (36-2-1, 15 KOs) defended his WBA middleweight title by winning a split decision over Matthew Macklin (28-3, 19 KOs) in Cologne on Saturday night in a fight that many others had the Birmingham man of Irish descent a clear winner.
Macklin, who marketed himself as an Irish warrior for this promotion, was decked out in green for the bout. Not that the 29-year-old needed any further motivation, but he might have got some after the German promoters made a complete mess of the Irish national anthem before the fight got under way.
For the first half of the bout, Macklin swarmed over Sturm and never let up with the pace, punching through his guard and delivering powerful body blows.
It was not until the second half of the fight that the German started to find his range, and though he caught Macklin with some hard sharp punches Macklin‘s output was still as such that he was the busier fighter over the 12 rounds.
However, two of the judges saw things differently and scored the fight 116-112 to Sturm, while one scored it 115-113 in favor of Macklin.
Macklin was quite incensed after the bout and revealed that Sturm told him another fight between the two would happen.
“He said he'd give me a rematch. He knows I've beat him. Do you think he'll give me a rematch if he thought he beat me? Not a prayer. He's given me a rematch because he's embarrassed,” said Macklin.
“I thought I won it by at least three (rounds), and German TV had me winning it by four.
"I thought I strolled the first six, seven. He probably had two clearly, and the others you could have given them to me. Some rounds were touch-and-go, but you could have given them to me on work-rate,” he said.
Sturm himself thought he won the fight but did confirm the two would meet again.
"It wasn't a wrong decision, but it was close. It was not my most outstanding performance, but I had a few clear shots and Matt worked hard. In my view, the decision was absolutely correct,” he said.
"We will definitely have a second fight. We have already agreed on it.”
One very interested observer was fellow middleweight contender Andy Lee (26-1, 19 KOs), who was in Germany with the Klitschko camp and felt that Macklin was on the wrong end of a bad decision.
“It was sickening. Matthew won that by three rounds I thought. He did all the work. Sturm landed some good clean punches, but Matthew more then made up for it with work rate,” Lee told the Irish Voice by e-mail.
“I watched the fight here at the hotel surrounded by Germans and they all gave Macklin the fight. Everyone knows it’s tough to get a decision in Germany, but I couldn't see how he could've done any more except KO him.”
Before making his way to Hamburg for this weekend’s big heavyweight battle between Wladimir Klitschko and David Haye, Lee was part of the Ukrainian’s training camp in Austria and even helped Klitschko with some sparring.
“I've been sparring with Wladimir a few rounds every day. After he does his main sparring I come and give him a different look and we work on speed,” said Lee.
“He's looking really good. This may have been his best training camp.”
Lee gave this update on how things are shaping up for the rest of the year, particularly in relation to the rematch with Bryan Vera.
“Hopefully, in the next week or two, Lou (DiBella) can nail down Vera and we can finally get the fight on,” he said. “It's looking like October 1, but I'm not sure where it'll be right now. I'm just waiting on them to give the word. In the meantime I'm training hard and staying ready.”
Vera (19-5) successfully came through a tune-up fight on Friday night in Texas when he defeated Eloy Suarez (11-12-1) by KO in round eight.
Finally, lightweight Jamie Kavanagh (7-0, 3 KOs) knocked John Willoughby (3-8) out in the third round of their fight last Thursday night at Club Nokia in Los Angeles.
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore