Felix Sturm silences critics with ninth round corner stoppage over Sebastian Zbik

13 Apr

Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen

Long-reigning middleweight world titlist Felix Sturm produced a technically exquisite performance against WBA challenger Sebastian Zbik at the Lanxess-Arena in Cologne, Germany on Friday, April 13 as the defending champion forced his opponent’s corner to withdraw their fighter as Zbik was deemed to be in no fit state to continue following such a dominant, jab-happy masterclass. It was Sturm’s 12th successful title defence in his third reign as king.

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Kirsch’s scorecard

Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Sturm
9 9 10 10 10 10 10 10 10

Zbik
10 10 9
9 9 9 9 9 9

Official verdict: Sturm wins by way of ninth round technical knockout.

Of all the boxing world champions, there were arguably few who had as underwhelming a calendar year in 2011 as German middleweight supremo Felix Sturm. The ‘Super’ WBA champion at 160lbs halted overmatched American Ronald Hearns in February, prior to – according to On The Beak reports published at the time – obtaining a questionable decision over Matthew Macklin and a tie verdict with Martin Murray.

The 33-year-old, who has ruled as king for the best part of a decade, boxed Sebastian Zbik in his first outing in 2012 and will not have been short on motivation as the match-up represented a grudge match akin to Nathan Cleverly and Tony Bellew’s simmering rivalry last year and, by out-pointing his compatriot with ease, secured his first convincing victory in 14 months.

As early as round one, Sturm tasted a portion of Zbik’s technical quality when he took a clean combination to the head. Throughout the opening stanza, the challenger’s short-range yet continuously precise right hand found the champion’s temple with a relative ease. Sturm’s primary weapon, the jab, proved to be too tame to thrwart Zbik’s tendancy to take the fight to Felix in round two. Zbik, popped one-two’s to the head, held onto the centre of the ring with a stubborn grip, cracked that right hand into Sturm’s nose and thudded uppercuts on his forehead.

Zbik’s sharp-shooting prevailed into the third as Sturm had no response in the opening half of the round, however, in the latter half, he rallied and incorporated his own uppercut into his jabbing routine; a long overdue measure as the jab alone led to a work-rate too insufficient to score points. Sturm finished the round beautifully by forcing Zbik back to the outside with a heavy handed power punch. The range-finding shots that Zbik threw in the opening two rounds disappeared in the next two as Sturm took control of the bout.

Both pugilists engaged in centre-ring trading in the fifth round, with Zbik hooking around Sturm’s guard, further angering cheek-bone swelling. The reigning champion, though, forced the more effective aggression as he landed right uppecuts, left jabs and overhand rights. By the end of the stanza, Zbik’s face was considerably marked. In the sixth, Sturm produced a lead hand clinic as he repeatedly landed forceful jabs and left shot hooks.

Whilst Sturm’s punches landed statistic would have paled in comparison to Zbik’s, the challenger’s shots were often cushioned against Sturm’s upright arms. Meanwhile, Sturm was the far more accurate puncher and, like he had done since round two, he finished the round in exemplary fashion, securing the ten score with crisp uppercuts and unrelenting jabs prior to the bell. In the contest’s third quarter, Sturm continued with his patient, precise and methodical dominance. The one-sidedness was so severe, that Zbik’s corner pulled their man out of the contest at the end of play in round nine. The stoppage was timely, as Zbik was succumbing to a battering.

In celebration, Sturm was hoisted on the shoulders of a team-member, kissed his biceps and received a jubilant applause from an impressed audience. With victory, Sturm moved to 37-2-2, 16ko and did what WBC middleweight world champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr couldn’t do one year ago… break Zbik’s will and spirit with an inspired tactical plan. Chavez Jr got the decision against Seb, but Sturm got the knockout.

In defeat, Zbik dropped down to 30-2-0, 10ko.

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