The luck of WBA middleweight champion Felix Sturm could be running out but the German stylist managed to retain his title on Friday night via controversial draw against Britain's Martin Murray at SAP Arena in Mannheim, Germany.
Just as in his successful defense by split decision against Englishman Matthew Macklin in June, Sturm was outworked by his challenger.
Sturm started off much more active than in the Macklin bout, winning the first two frames on jabs and activity as Murray was largely in study mode in his first world title contest and first appearance abroad.
By the third, Murray began to put together a cohesive offense that was to give the champion difficulty for the remainder of the fight but Sturm retained control with the jab and hard right hands.
After the midway point, Murray had warmed up and was the busier man, with effective body shots and a left hook that consistently snaked around Sturm's high guard.
The pair took turns it seemed, firing combinations at the opponent before covering up when the return combinations commenced.
Sturm spent large portions of the fight covering up and didn't get his second wind until the ninth, when he was beating Murray to the punch in exchanges before Murray regained control in the tenth and particularly the eleventh, when he was clearly outpacing Sturm.
The 12th round saw the fighters picking their spots until Sturm caught Murray on the chin with a hard right and following up with good shots from both hands until the bell sounded to finish the bout.
Sturm, 36-2-2 (15) kept his title with a split draw, with scores of 114-114 even, 115-113 for Murray and 116-112 for Sturm.
On the strength of his performance, Murray, 23-0-1 (10), could see an immediate mandated rematch.
The undercard saw Nadia Raoui, 13-1-1 (3), post an eight round points verdict over Oksana Ramonova, 7-13-21 (2), for the flyweight WIBA crown.