A consistent theme of this observer’s work particularly here on The Boxing Truth® over the last several years has been the gradual shift of the sport of Boxing away from traditional television platforms and pay-per-view and towards digital subscription-based streaming networks and platforms. While the pay-per-view model unfortunately still exists in 2023 and has even creeped into the subscription-based streaming model, one of the benefits to subscription-based streaming as it relates to Boxing is generally offering more value to consumers as compared to traditional television platforms, including, but not limited to, offering a subscriber the opportunity to see every bout on a card as well as offering multiple events on one platform in a single day.
On February 18th, digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN will offer a full day of Boxing from three different countries that will feature a former world champion continuing his comeback, a fight for a version of the World Featherweight championship, and an encounter between two top Jr. Featherweight contenders looking to take another step towards a world title shot.
First up will be former two-division world champion Felix Sturm, who will return to the ring to face veteran Sukru Altay in Stuttgart, Germany in a ten round Light-Heavyweight bout. Although Sturm is a former world champion in both the Middleweight and Super-Middleweight divisions, he is perhaps best known, particularly to American Boxing fans, for his first professional loss, when he lost a controversial twelve round unanimous decision and his WBO World Middleweight championship to Oscar De La Hoya in June 2004. A fight that many, including yours truly, who covered it, felt that Sturm deserved the decision. Nearly nineteen years later and many fights and ups and downs outside the ring, Sturm, now forty-four years old looks to continue a comeback that began in 2020, but one where he is coming off of a loss.
In that fight one year ago, Sturm dropped a twelve round majority decision to Super-Middleweight Istvan Szili. Now looking to bounce back from what was the sixth loss of his career, Sturm will set his sights on a third weight class, the 175lb. Light-Heavyweight division. For his Light-Heavyweight debut, Sturm will face relative unknown Sukru Altay. Quite frankly, this fight can be described as one where the theme is “The Unknown.”
What exactly is “Unknown” the reader might ask? Well in simple terms, both fighters have questions to answer in this fight. It is unknown just how much Felix Sturm has left at age forty-four and being several years removed from both his physical prime as well as when he was a world champion. Although he is coming into this fight off of a loss, the big question at least in my eyes is whether or not his sporadic activity since his return in 2020 has done more harm than good. While some of the issue of his activity could perhaps be blamed on the ongoing global COVID-19 epidemic, Sturm has only fought once per year since his return from a four year hiatus in 2020. The biggest enemy for any fighter throughout combat sports is inactivity, especially for a fighter at an advanced age as Sturm now is. This in addition to the obvious question of how he will look as a Light-Heavyweight is the “Unknown” that surrounds him. At his best, Sturm was a solid combination puncher with a tight defensive guard and consistent jab, in which the rest of his offense flowed off of. It will be interesting to see both what the former champion has left as well as what he will bring to the fight.
Similarly, it will also be interesting to see what Sturm’s opponent Sukru Altay will bring into this encounter. The perhaps bigger “Unknown” beyond the questions that surround Sturm is just who is Sukru Altay? Altay will enter this fight with a record of 15-2, with 14 Knockouts. Despite being at a significant experience disadvantage compared to Sturm who will be entering the ring for the fifty-third time in his professional career, Altay does have an 83% career knockout percentage. The potential flaw to that however, is that he has not fought anywhere near the level of competition as Sturm has and that is the big “Unknown” that surrounds him going into this fight. Whether Altay’s record is a case of a fighter lacking opportunity and simply beating whatever opposition that has been put in front of him while waiting for an opportunity to face a notable opponent, or if his record is a product of clever matchmaking is something that remains to be seen.
This brings us to the second main event that will be featured as part of this marathon of Boxing on February 18th. A highly anticipated encounter for the WBA Featherweight championship of the world between champion Leigh Wood and challenger and WBA number ten rated Featherweight contender Mauricio Lara, which will headline a Boxing card at the Nottingham Arena in Nottingham, England. Wood, who was recently named full WBA world champion in the Featherweight division after previously holding Interim/Regular champion status in the WBA’s rankings will be making his second title defense in his reign, which is now recognized by the WBA following former champion Leo Santa Cruz vacating the championship to compete full-time in the 130lb. Jr. Lightweight division. In his last fight in March of last year, Wood scored a scary twelfth round knockout over previously undefeated Michael Conlan in what was a close and competitive fight where Wood knocked his opponent out of the ring and out of the fight in the final round.
As scary as that knockout was, Conlan was okay after spending time in a near by hospital and has resumed his career with two victories since that loss and would appear to be nearing a potential rematch with Wood. Before what would be a lucrative second bout between the two, Wood must get past a very dangerous opponent in Mauricio Lara.
Lara will enter this fight having won six of his last seven bouts with the only blemish coming in his rematch with Josh Warrington, who was between reigns as IBF Featherweight world champion at the time of his two encounters with Lara. As most know, Lara knocked Warrington out in their first encounter, but the rematch between the two ended in a technical draw due to Lara suffering a bad cut in the second round as a result of an accidental head butt.
Since that rematch in September 2021, Warrington has gone on to regain the IBF world championship in the division and would likely welcome a third bout with Lara if Lara can win the WBA world championship in this fight against Leigh Wood as it would raise the stakes of a third bout to also be a unification bout. This will be Lara’s first attempt at a world championship in this fight against Wood and stylistically, this could be a fight similar to Wood’s bout with Michael Conlan as both fighters can do a little of everything and both have shown punching power in previous bouts.
Lara has likely seen Wood’s bout with Conlan where the champion was dropped in the first round and was behind on all three official scorecards prior to Wood being able to catch Conlan in the final round. While if Conlan, who was knocked down in the eleventh round in that fight had been able to continue after being knocked out of the ring in the twelfth round, the bout might have ended in a draw, Lara likely knows if he is able to get out to a lead early in the fight as Conlan had done, he will need to pace himself as Wood tends to come on as a fight progresses and seems to get stronger as a fight moves into the middle and late rounds. With much at stake for both fighters, a world championship on the line, and potentially more lucrative paydays ahead for the winner, it will be interesting to see who comes out on top of a fight that appears to be evenly matched on paper.
Finally, the day of Boxing on DAZN will conclude with an intriguing Jr. Featherweight encounter between two former world title challengers who are each looking to position themselves for another opportunity at a world title. This observer is referring to the bout between Luis Nery and Azat Hovhannisyan, which will be taking place in Pomona, CA.
The bout, which is scheduled for twelve rounds, brings together two of the top contenders in the 122lb. Jr. Featherweight division. Although both fighters each have career knockout percentages above 70%, this is a clash of styles between a boxer in Nery against a puncher in Hovhannisyan. The similarity between the two fighters however, is that both men have been unbeaten since losing their respective challenges for world titles. Both fighters are likely more than aware of what the other can do and it will be interesting to see how they approach each other in this crucial fight in their respective careers. While a loss for either man would not likely signal the end of the road in terms of their career, another setback at this stage would likely move them back further from potential contention and it will take some time to try and rebound from it.
A tripleheader of Boxing events that offers a little bit of everything for any Boxing fan. Whether this will be the start of what could become a regular occurrence for DAZN and other streaming networks remains to be seen. What a day of Boxing such as this does demonstrate however, is not only the benefit of a subscription-based model, but more specifically the value for the subscription price. Even the harshest critics of the sport should view that as a step forward even in an era where there are those who continue to embrace other models that cost more to the consumer and do not offer value for what they are asked to pay.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.
Sturm vs. Altay takes place on Saturday, February 18th at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart, Germany. The fight as well as it’s undercard can be seen on digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN beginning at 10:50AM ET/7:50AM PT.
Wood vs. Lara takes place on Saturday, February 18th at the Nottingham Arena in Nottingham, England. The card can be seen on digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN beginning with Before the Bell, which will also feature preliminary bouts beginning at 10:30AM ET/7:30AM PT. This will be followed by the main card, which is scheduled to begin at 2PM ET/11AM PT.
Nery vs. Hovhannisyan takes place on Saturday, February 18th at the Fox Theater in Pomona, CA. The bout as well as it’s full undercard can be seen on digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN beginning at 6PM ET/3PM PT.
*All events will be available on demand.*
*U. S. Start Times Only*
For more information about DAZN including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices, platforms, Smart TVs, availability around the world, local start times in your area, and to subscribe please visit: www.DAZN.com.
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