Wladimir Klitschko will put his titles on the line against David Haye

Jun 21, 2011 3:00 AM
We are just two weeks away from the most anticipated heavyweight title fight in recent memory. Wladimir Klitschko will put his IBF, WBO, IBO, and Ring Magazine titles on the line against David Haye in Hamburg, Germany.

That matchup has captivated the attention of fans everywhere, but before those two heavyweights go at it, we have another title defense taking place in Cologne, Germany this weekend.

Current WBA middleweight champion Felix Sturm (35-2-1, 15 KOs) will look to defend his title against Matthew Macklin (28-2, 19 KOs) this coming Saturday. Unlike Klitschko who currently resides in Germany, the 32-year-old Sturm was born and raised there, so he’ll definitely have the crowd on his side.

Macklin, who hails from England but travels on an Irish passport, comes in with an 11-fight win streak and hasn’t lost in over four years.

The bookmakers have installed Felix Sturm as a -330 favorite over Macklin. I feel the betting value is on the champion even at this chalky price. In fact I made my "true line" on Sturm closer to -400, reflecting a win probability upwards of 80%.

Oddsmakers are obviously forced to send out a "fair line" since the goal is to split the betting action for bookmakers. With that in mind sharp bettors are able to uncover value, and in this matchup it’s with Sturm.

Sturm is remembered most for his very close fight against Oscar De la Hoya back in 2004. All three judges scored the bout 115-113 in favor of De la Hoya but most observers felt Sturm had earned the decision. I was one of those who scored the fight in favor of Sturm and "Compubox" helped support that opinion by showing he had landed 46 more punches.

Macklin has held the British and European middleweight titles and is currently ranked second by the WBA and fourth by the WBO. He last fought in December of 2010, winning a narrow decision over Ruben Varon.

This will be a huge step up for Macklin who has built a professional career going up against "B-level" competition. Don’t let his 19 KOs fool you, Macklin is not a power puncher by any stretch and his ability to absorb punishment is due to a lack of defense.

This fight will mark the 10th defense of Sturm’s title dating back to his 2007 win against Javier Castillejo, which avenged only the second loss of his pro career. All nine of his defenses have taken place in Germany with the latest being a seventh round TKO over Ronald Hearns, the son of Hall of Fame boxer Tommy Hearns.

Sturm represented Germany in the 2000 Sidney Olympics and has had a successful career in Europe. Since that tough loss to De la Hoya he has not fought stateside and his anonymity is exactly why we are getting value.

This should be an easy fight for Sturm who shouldn’t encounter any real danger. Oddsmakers expect this fight to go the distance and have set the over/under at 9½ rounds. The over is an almost 3-1 favorite.

If Sturm isn’t able to take Macklin out in the later rounds, I look for him to earn a unanimous decision by out-working and out-landing the younger and less experienced fighter. Sturm should be able to dictate the action and will have an obvious speed and power advantage in this fight.

Sturm’s handlers are not going after guys like Sergio Martinez or even someone like Kelly Pavlik. Instead they’ve opted to go after "Mac the Knife," who has built a fan base in Europe and should give the champ an easy victory.

I expect to see Sturm use this title to get at least one more marquee fight in the not too distant future. But for now, it seems he’s content piling up wins and staying out of harms way.

Making Haye Early

Let’s go ahead and warm up for next week’s heavyweight title fight by stepping up and laying the chalk in what appears to be an "underlay" and very safe bet even at this price.

At the end of the day, value is value and if the "true line" should be -400 and I’m only being asked to lay -330, that’s a bet I’ll step up to the counter and make every time.

Next week: A breakdown of Klitschko-Haye to see if we can uncover some betting value.

Season record: 17-3 (boxing and MMA)

(Note: Vegas-Runner is a Pro Bettor in Las Vegas. Featured on CNBC and ESPN. Follow VR on Twitter (@Vegasrunner) and at Pregame.com.