By Derek Bonnett: If professional boxing abided by the same rules as baseball, Giovanni Lorenzo would be staring down his last possible strike before the sport called him "out".
Lorenzo has already come up short in a world title eliminator against Raul Marquez and a world championship bout against Sebastian Sylvester. On September 4 at Lanxess-Arena in Germany, Lorenzo will attempt to become only the fifteenth boxing world champion from the Dominican Republic. His opponent will be three time middleweight titlist, Felix Sturm, who will be making the eighth defense of his current WBA reign. In order to stay at bat in the middleweight division, Lorenzo is in dire need of a world class victory to affirm his career.
Lorenzo, 29-2 (21), has relied heavily upon his punching power to work his way up the 160 pound rankings. His power earned a second round KO of Dionisio Miranda in 2009 which secured him his first world title shot, but it was not enough to fold higher caliber opposition like Marquez or Sylvester. However, those two bouts have granted Lorenzo great experience at the world class level and, hopefully, the understanding that it will take more than just power to topple Sturm.
"I think in boxing everyone likes to see the knockout," Lorenzo commented. "It’s like with racing: people want to see the crash. When you are a knockout puncher, people expect you to knock guys out, so that is always on my mind. It just becomes a natural thing for me: seek and destroy. Every fight I have ever fought, even as an amateur, I have always gone for the knockout. That is who I am, but my boxing skills set all that up."
Fans have enjoyed the inside the ring "crashes" Lorenzo has generated, but a second advantage Lorenzo may have over the vastly more experienced Sturm, who owns a 2008 victory over Sylvester, is activity. The Dominican hopeful has already posted two victories in 2010 while the thirty-one year old champion has not fought in over a year. However, Lorenzo’s victims were a far cry from the elite status fighters he has struggled with in the past.
"I think [my recent wins] have helped me by keeping me active," Lorenzo explained. "I think Sturm’s long layoff is going to hurt his ability to fight someone like me, who has been very busy and already in fighting shape. He has to get back into shape; I am already there. That is a big difference and a big edge for me."
Experience and conditioning will certainly help Lorenzo to achieve his goal of dethroning Sturm, but he is clearly approaching his entire preparation for this fight with greater reflection and fervor. Lorenzo, who will be thirty in October, is aware he will have to be better than he was against Marquez and Sylvester in order to win. In fact, he’s planning on taking his fight game to a new level.
" I have trained harder to go harder," Lorenzo stated. "I have been working with my physical conditioning coach Seth Siedman and he has helped me raise my strength and endurance. If there was one thing I wanted to change it would be to be busier and attack the body harder and more consistently. I am a tremendous body puncher with a great jab and I know that is the way to win [the Sturm fight]. I also think Sturm is susceptible to left hooks on top of the temple. There is some wiring screwed up over that side of his head that I am going to take advantage of. I sparred eighty rounds for this fight and about half of them were with Ishe Smith. That has sharpened my pencil and prepared me for my toughest test and the biggest fight of my life. In order to knock out Sturm you have to be in tremendous shape. For this fight, I am in the best shape of my life. I can’t wait for this fight. I wish it was today."
As a title challenger, Lorenzo will have to travel to Sturm’s homeland of Germany, where numerous foreign born contenders have found it difficult to win a decision on the road. Given Sturm’s ability, even if Lorenzo is successful in executing his plan, the bout will likely be close and he’ll need to do something a little extra to overcome the champion. Yet, one factor Lorenzo is not concerned with is the pro-Sturm crowd he will inevitably face during his second trip to Germany.
"I like to go to Germany; I like the crowd," Lorenzo admitted. "They are actually amazing. I mean, they want to see me get beat ,but at the same time I feel like they respect me for who I am, an athlete who is willing to risk his life for the sake of glory. Germans hold that in high regard. In Germany, boxers are respected, so what’s there not to like about that? I have fought in front of twenty thousand before, so this is no different."
Giovanni Lorenzo is hoping to bring the WBA middleweight championship back home. Only then can he make traveling on the road more of a primary concern for his opponent than one of his own. The roar of his Dominican fans has fueled Lorenzo throughout his career so far, but as their fifteenth world champion, the cheers would surely be augmented by a few decibels.
"My county is filled with great fighters past and present," Lorenzo asserted proudly. "Both Joan Guzman and Elio Rojas have accomplished a lot recently. They are both world champions. I can join them as champions and in making my country proud by beating Sturm, who many feel is the best in the world. To be the best, you have to beat the best. I have that opportunity now. I have worked all my life for this moment and I will bring the title home to San Cristobal, Dominican Republic and make them all proud."
National pride is a powerful force in the world of professional sports. Sturm will be fighting for his own nation’s pride and boxing history, but the final outcome will be decided by two men only. Boxing enthusiasts know that when two elite caliber fighters collide anything is possible, but going into this one Lorenzo will be a clear underdog. However, he is an underdog who has been active and holds a decisive edge in power.
Fortunately for Lorenzo, he knows how to use it and is quite willing to accommodate the fans. These factors just might be enough for Lorenzo to find that home run shot to a championship instead of strike number three and his way out of the title picture.
Contact Derek Bonnett on Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org for further boxing discussion.