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Saturday, December 10, 2011

England's Martin Murray draws with Felix Sturm in world title fight

England's Martin Murray drew with the WBA super-middleweight champion, Felix Sturm, as the German retained his title in Mannheim on Friday night.

The 29-year-old from St Helens produced a tremendous display, trading shot for shot with his opponent and going the full distance for only the second time in his 24 fights to date.

Murray was awarded the fight 115-113 by the American judge Ted Gimza but, with Jean-François Toupin scoring it 116-112 for Sturm and Pasquale Procopio unable to split the pair, he was left to hope for a rematch if he is to prise the belt off the 32-year-old.

The early stages of the fight were evenly matched, although Murray did well to keep his opponent at bay for the most part. But the champion stepped up his game slightly in the fifth and sixth rounds, landing the eye-catching shots and finishing rounds strongly.

Murray dominated the eighth, though, landing a string of shots as the round entered its final minute and developing a swagger as his opponent began to look rattled.

Sturm landed some crisp shots towards the end of round nine, bursting through the Englishman's guard on several occasions before connecting with a shuddering uppercut.

Murray came out with a strong salvo at the start of the 10th but was given two warnings by the referee, Stanley Christodoulou. The round also saw a rucksack thrown into the ring seconds from the end, landing near the two fighters.

Sturm attempted to work behind his jab but Murray was the man throwing the bigger punches. However, a dramatic flurry of punches in the closing seconds saw the German rattle his opponent and celebrate at the bell.

The judges' inability to find consensus meant he remains the champion but Murray emerged with great credit after matching his opponent.

Murray told Sky Sports afterwards: "We thought we'd won but you're in Germany, in his own backyard. We're gutted we didn't get the win but it's expected in Germany.

"We've always known I'm world-class, I just needed that chance. I've shown it today, I took a major step up in class but I belong at that level. I took a couple of rounds to get into it and get flowing, I eventually warmed into it and went 12 rounds with a good world champion."

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