Daniel Geale (28-1 15KO) earned the biggest and most important victory of his career by defeating Felix Sturm (37-3-2 16KO) in his own backyard by split decision. The fact that he was able to beat Sturm by a close decision in Germany is a miracle in it of itself but nevertheless, Geale deserved the win. Geale unified the IBF title and captured Sturms’ WBA belt.
Geale started off slow as Sturm was able to take control of the fight with precise jabs and straight right hands. At that moment, it seemed that Sturm would be too quick and accurate for Geale to handle. However, Geale was gradually able to assert his pressure and movement in order to disrupt, and at times, frustrate Sturm.
The strategy that Geale implemented was to make Sturm miss, attack him at an angle, and then back out before Sturm could respond. This proved especially effective because Sturm seemed flustered anytime he couldn’t land his signature jab. Geale was able to land his right cross seemingly at will during this time.
However, Sturm was able to make adjustments of his own and had his moments in the late stages of the fight. He was able to land his jab again and the veteran German decided to plant his feet and engage in entertaining exchanges with Geale in order to take away his footwork. The fight proved to be dead even and by the final bell, most people believed that either man could have won the fight by one or two points.
The judges seemed to see a different fight as one judge scored the fight 116-112 for Sturm and the other two had the same score for Geale. Although I believe he did enough to earn the win, there fight was closer than a 116-112 scorecard. Anyways, this is the second time that Geale has beaten a highly regarded champion in his own backyard, the first being a points victory over Sebastian Sylvester. It will be very interesting to see where Geale goes from here. High profile matches against the likes of Gennady Golovkin, Dmitry Pirog, Grzegorz Proska, and the winner of the upcoming Martinez-Chavez Jr. fight are definite possibilities.
As for Sturm, his future is less clear. He was supposed to vacate the title if he could beat Geale but now that he’s lost the title for different reasons; his best option might be to get a rematch with Geale or perhaps move up in weight and challenge the elite of the super middleweight division (168 Ibs.). For many years now, Sturm has unfortunately been giving the impression that he’s been ducking and avoiding the best of the middleweight division (160 Ibs.) and earning ‘gift’ decisions in Germany. Making a risky decision such as fighting Geale again or moving up in weight could help Sturm dispel these perceptions.