A lot of British boxing fans were left with mixed feelings after a thrilling battle between Martin Murray and Felix Sturm ended in a draw, with Sturm holding on to his WBA middleweight title. Everyone knew it was a close fight and with boxing scoring being so subjective, this was reflected in the scoring with Jean-Francois Toupin scoring the fight 116-112 Sturm, Ted Gimza scoring 115-113 Murray, and Pascquale Procopio unable to split them scoring it 114-114.
My thoughts on the night when watching it live in Germany were that Murray ended the fight 2 rounds up, and I was astounded by judge Jean-Francois giving it 116-112 to Sturm. On reflection and then having seen the fight on video I still think Murray won the fight by at least 1 round. Sturm is a great fighter but he fights in short bursts trying to steal rounds in the last 30 seconds, and he always has a good round 12. However I felt that the volume of punches, and the consistency was with Murray all the way. A lot of the punches thrown by Sturm were met with rapturous applause from the German fans, but appeared to be largely blocked by a tight Murray defence. After just 3 rounds, Sturm started to look very uncomfortable as if realising the enormity of the task he had taken on and looked shaky on his legs in rounds 7 and 8, although admittedly he battled through to the end.
So the negatives are that Martin didn’t win the WBA title, and him and the team are left with the feeling that they deserved to win the fight. However there are lots of positives to take from this as well. This was a huge step up in class for Martin Murray, and he himself admitted in an ideal world he would have liked a few more fights leading up to this WBA showdown in Germany, but points out that you have to take your chances when you get them. He has always claimed that he is world class, and taking such a well established and experienced world champion like Sturm over 12 rounds in the manner that he did, proves this beyond a shadow of a doubt. In the press conference the following day, Sturm initially seemed open to a possible rematch, and although unlikely to leave Germany, Murray has said he would be happy to fight there again (the main issue with this is that Sturm is also looking to unify the division).
After the Macklin fight, I think that Sturm was looking to make a statement. He looked in really great shape and started quite quickly, whereas normally he moves up slowly through the gears. The fact that Martin still performed as well as he did against a much better prepared Felix Sturm speaks volumes.
The final positive point is that Martin is still undefeated, and this fight should increase his awareness and popularity, and could open doors to bigger fights in the future.
Now to those that still question the outcome of the fight, I found these statistics quite interesting from Boxing Scene’s compubox punch stats:
Murray landed 24% of his 88 punches thrown per round, 31 more than the middleweight avg. Murray threw and landed more punches in nine of twelve rounds. The more efficient Sturm landed 47% of his power shots.
Overall, Sturm threw 631 punches and landed 182 (29% connect ratio). Murray threw 1061 punches and landed 258 (24% connect ratio). Murray also landed 184 out of 559 power punches compared to Sturm’s 90 out of 190.
After the fight Martin said:
“I’m gutted — but I expected that result in Germany. I took a great world champion the full 12 rounds but just didn’t do enough in Germany to rip the belt from him.”
“This was a real step up in class and it took me a couple of rounds to get into it.”
“Then I warmed to it and I know if I’d had a couple more rounds I’d have had him.”
If a rematch doesn’t happen, there are lots of options still open to Martin and his promotion/managerial team including the defence of his British Middleweight title. I’m sure Martin would also like to do a big shout out to the Barmy Army, 300+ people travelled to Mannheim in Germany to support Martin and they were in prime form on the night.