Australian Daniel Geale (28-1,15) first made his name when he traveled to Germany last year and defeated the then IBF Middleweight champion Sebastian Sylvester to claim his first world title as a professional boxer. Amazingly he repeated the act just hours ago as he once again traveled to Germany and dethroned a German champion to claim the WBA "super" title from Felix Sturm (37-3-2, 16).
The fight started excellently with both both men having a solid claim to the opening round as both fighter let their hands go and shared solid offense. It seemed as if Sturm's jab would be the most potent weapon but Geale often matched him solidly in a high octane jab off. The startling thing however was that Geale often found his way around the Sturm jab where he could unleash solid combinations to both the head and body of the champion.
Many of the opening rounds were close as both men took it almost in turns to come at the other. Despite the action being hotly contested the only early damage either man suffered was a small cut around the back of Geale's in ear from what appeared to have been from an accidental clash of heads late in the second round. It was however not the cut that played a big part on the fight but instead the body work of Geale who repeatedly dug into Sturm's body in the early portion of the fight, taking the wind out of the German's sails.
Despite starting well it seemed like the accumulation of the body shots took their toll on Sturm in the middle rounds as the Australian came on strong whilst Sturm seemed very subdued and tired. In many of the middle rounds Sturm looked like a man who was there for the taking and his usually reliable jab was rarely finding the target with any success as Geale managed to slip inside and unleash up close time and time again. By the end of the 7th round Sturm was looking worn out, he had taken barrages of shots from the dogged Aussie who was starting to storm away with the bout.
Having just falling behind Sturm then tried to fight back, his jab started to look busier and more efficient, his usual snap was back and he started to grind out several rounds as Geale himself started to slow due to the hectic pace he had set himself. Several of these rounds were almost impossible to score as each man gave as good as they got and were likely the reason for the varying score cards that we finally got.
Going into the championship rounds it was anyone's guess as to who was in the lead and the fighters knew it as they put it all on the line in both rounds 11 and 12. Whilst the 11th was close both men were starting to look tired, their work, whilst busy was starting to look sloppier and more desperate than it had earlier on and it was fair to say we didn't expect much going into the final round. Instead of the pace slowing even more in the 12th it seemed as if both men had a second wind as they unleashed on each other in a hectic round that saw both men putting it all on the line in arguably the most enjoyable round of the bout. As soon as one man finished his series of punches the other came back with more ferocity, then the first fighter came back as both men tried to stake a claim for the round.
As we came to the final bell, the scores were anyone's guess. There had been enough close rounds to score it any which way, in fact you wouldn't have been shocked had the scored included as many as 3 or 4 tied rounds due to the give and take nature of the bout. Rather ominously however the German's looked worried whilst the Aussie's corner looked optimistic, as if they could feel something in the air as they did when Geale beat Sylvester...
Michael Buffer announced the first card, 116-112-Sturm, we then though Sturm would become the unified Middleweight champion...the the second card came 116-112-Geale, it suddenly dawned on us that we might not actually end up with a unified champion after all. Everyone watching waited with baited breath almost preempting a 114-114 scorecard, then Buffer announced the third scorecard 116-112...he paused...before confirming that it was for Daniel Geale who had managed to claim another Split Decision victory in Germany!
For a non-German based fighter to have won 2 close bouts in Germany in world title fights in the opponents home state is almost unheard of, so for Geale to have managed that in just the last 18 months or so is simply incredible. The doors have really opened for the Aussie who will certainly be watching tonight's bout between Gennady Golovkin and Grzegorz Proksa very closely as well as awaiting the out come of a number of other major Middleweight bouts. For Sturm however the end is nigh, if not already here.