Lee Groves

10: Greatest middleweight champions

7. Felix Sturm – WBO titlist (September 13, 2003-June 5, 2004), WBA belt-holder (March 11, 2006-July 15, 2006, April 28, 2007-present)


For most American fans, the first and only memory of Sturm was losing his WBO belt to Oscar de la Hoya on the Bernard Hopkins-Robert Allen III pay-per-view show. Most people believe Sturm was robbed and, based on his reaction in the ring, “The Golden Boy” felt the same way. Just imagine how much Sturm’s career would have changed had the judges confirmed what everyone else saw that night. As it is, Sturm has done quite nicely, professionally and historically. 

His piston-like jab and methodically scientific approach has netted him a sterling 14-2-2 record in 160-pound title fights. Sturm recently crossed the five-year mark in his current stint as WBA king, which began by avenging his only knockout loss to Javier Castillejo and stringing together 12 defenses, the most recent of which took place this past Saturday against Sebastian Zbik (KO 9). That tied Sturm with Marvelous Marvin Hagler for third place in consecutive defenses. In addition to avenging the Castillejo loss, Sturm also reversed one of his two title-fight draws against Randy Griffin. As for the other blemishes, De La Hoya is firmly retired but Matthew Macklin may be available for another crack.

Every lengthy reign has its share of less-than-marquee names and Sturm has his. But they weren’t bad fighters either – the men he defeated in title defenses had a combined 275-13-5 record (a .939 winning percentage) and four opponents lost their “0” to him. He doesn’t have great power – his four title-fight stoppages were either TKOs or corner retirements – but his neat boxing style and tight defense would have been a headache for just about anyone, figuratively and sometimes literally.

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