Murray’s takes champion Sturm the distance

Defending champion Felix Sturm of Germany, left, and Britain's Martin Murray fight during a WBA middleweight title bout in Mannheim, Germany, Friday, Dec. 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
Defending champion Felix Sturm of Germany, left, and Britain's Martin Murray fight during a WBA middleweight title bout in Mannheim, Germany, Friday, Dec. 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
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MARTIN Murray produced a tremendous display to draw with WBA super middleweight champion Felix Sturm.

Fighting in Sturm’s native German, the St Helens fighter’s boxing skills and aggression almost won him the title.

The 29-year-old from St Helens traded 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 American judge Ted Gimza but, with Jean-Francois 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 handed two warnings by 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.