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Oscar and Felix: The Odd Couple
By Tom Gray (May 27, 2004) 
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If you have ever sat and watched the 1968 comedy, The Odd Couple, then you will know that the movie revolves around two friends, who through fate, end up living under the same roof. They are as opposite as night and day and living together almost destroys their bond. Ironically, the names of the lead characters are Oscar and Felix, played by Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau respectively. This story creates an interesting dynamic when you look at two prize fighters, also called Oscar and Felix, who share a night together on June 5th.

Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Sturm are chalk and cheese. The Golden Boy is a multi millionaire and a living legend in the sport of boxing. He won 223 of 228 amateur contests, culminating in an Olympic Gold Medal that provided the shine for a stellar professional career. At 31, De La Hoya is coming towards the end of the road and has a long list of dangerous opponents on his resume including Chavez, Whitaker, Quartey, Trinidad, Mosley and Vargas. Sure he didn’t win them all, but nobody has ever dominated the LA star.

Felix Sturm is a twenty five year old champion, which is a distinction that De La Hoya no longer holds. Despite his middleweight belt, the opportunity to take on “his idol” is a Cinderella story which will live with him forever. Sturm turned professional just over three years ago after a successful amateur career and has maintained an undefeated record. He took the WBO title after gaining a split decision over Hector Javier Velazco last September and has since defended it against another opponent that you have probably never heard of. On inspection, he has fast hands and follows an educated left hand with some good combination work. Does that sound familiar? Maybe they do have something in common!

Recently there was a feature on UK television which highlighted the difference between Sturm’s preparation and Oscar’s. The “champion” was isolated in a small flat in Las Vegas and was doing some ironing, prior to carrying out an interview with a television crew. The “challenger” by contrast was his charming self at a media event, before jumping into a huge gold Lexus with the usual entourage in tow. It just makes you wonder what being a champion means these days!

The fight itself is intriguing because Sturm is naturally the bigger man. He has a strong looking physique and is almost six foot tall, which provides Oscar with a rare opportunity to fight a taller opponent. It is also worth remembering that when Oscar initially ventured in to the 154lb class, his punches bounced off Javier Castillejo for twelve rounds, although he did score a knockdown in the dying seconds.

De La Hoya is definitely not a middleweight, so it is likely that the fight could go the distance and that would provide strong ammunition for those who think that Oscar has a date with the gallows in September, when he meets Hopkins.

I don’t believe that is the case. Oscar will likely be the aggressor against Sturm, because he won’t fear what is coming back. The champion only has nine knockouts on his record, so he won’t intimidate De La Hoya, who has taken on many big punchers in a twelve year career. If and when Oscar fights “The Executioner”, you can bet he will be on the back foot, for the most part, looking to counter. Therefore, Oscar will be fighting two different fights in three months and as we know he has the versatility to do that. Sturm is there to provide Oscar with a title and a test at a new weight class, not prepare him for Hopkins and that is worth remembering.

I think Oscar De La Hoya vs. Felix Sturm will be a good fight in its own right, even though it is an appetizer. De La Hoya is coming in off of a defeat to Mosley, albeit controversial, and will be looking to make a statement in his middleweight debut. Sturm will relish the opportunity to become a hero in his native Germany and has championship pride that may propel him to a higher level. I feel that Oscar will prevail, but it will be very entertaining, no matter how long it lasts.

I hope so anyway, because I’ll be there!
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