Felix Sturm, a fan favorite in Germany, had successfully and controversially retained his title against Brits Matthew Macklin and Martin Murray last year, much to the dismay of many who believed the WBA Super World Middleweight Champion was outgunned both times.
Now, for the first time in over 6 years, Sturm is without a title.
Ironically, although most in the media deemed Sturm vs Geale a close bout, not everyone had Geale winning in the end.
Several in the media, including FightNews, WorldBoxingNews and ESPN had Sturm winning 115-113 but all three sources indicated it was a terribly close affair and there was no immediate criticism with the outcome.
Was Daniel Geale's victory poetic justice for Felix Sturm?
As a result of winning a few controversial decisions and his unwillingness to leave Germany to defend his title against the division's best - something "champions" do - some in the media labelled Sturm a "paper champion" years ago.
Nevertheless, the German showed heart and courage, refusing to relinquish his strap without a giving Geale a good fight.
Daniel Geale got off to a great start in Round 1, unleashing quick combinations to the head and body, forcing Sturm to take a step back. But in second, Sturm was able to employ a crisp left jab to dictate the tempo and keep Geale at range. As the pressure fighter early on, Sturm was able to smother Geale's boxing and even the bout heading into the third.
The Australian hammered Sturm in the end of the third to steal the round but Sturm's heavy shots in Round 4 appeared to have won the stanza, evening things one again.
Although Geale increased his pace in the fifth and sixth rounds, Sturm pumped the jab effectively in retaliation. Both fighters landed well in back-to-back toss-up rounds.
The German, making his 13th defense of the WBA Title, appeared to tire in the seventh as the pressuring Geale asserted himself by attacking and staying busy by landing combinations. But having seemingly blown the seventh, Sturm answered back in the eighth, finishing the round in strong fashion.
The ninth round was another close affair as Sturm, once again employing an effective left jab, appeared to have gained his second wind and quite possibly the upper-hand. And after Sturm appeared to take Round 10, albeit barely, some in the media believed Geale had to win the last two rounds to have any chance of winning.
Like most rounds in the fight, the eleventh was close. Sturm did well early on and closed strongly but the volume of time in-between was won by the busier Daniel Geale.
Fireworks erupted in Round 12 as the fighters, perhaps sensing that round could decide the outcome, let their fists fly.
Five or six or the rounds could have arguably gone either way, something that would surely prove to be in Sturm's favor, right?
In the end, the judges scores were 116-112 Sturm and 116-112 Geale twice.
Using some semblance of the fight plan drafted by Macklin and Murray, the more technical Geale was able to expose Sturm's vulnerabilities. He pressured Sturm from the opening bell and maintained a high activity rate throughout. And while Geale, to no surprise, was the volume puncher in the bout, Sturm's shots appeared to be harder and more consequential. However, the German's assaults weren't quite enough to overcome Geale's pace and buzzing combinations tonight.
And while Sturm won a close bout on the scorecards of a handful those in the boxing media, few will be sympatetic to the German because of his alleged "gift decisions" and for staying tucked away in Germany and defending his title against the likes of Noe Gonzalez Alcoba, Randy Griffin, Jaime Pittman, Koji Sato and a green Martin Murray instead of elite pros such as Bernard Hopkins, Jermain Taylor, Kelly Pavlik and Sergio Martinez.
'Real Deal' Geale, now the WBA/IBF unified middleweight champion, will look to face the winner of tonight's bout between WBA Regular Champion Gennady Golovkin and IBO King Grzegorz Proksa.
Perhaps now, since he's without a title, we'll finally see Sturm fight the power brokers in his division ... Or maybe he'll call it day, having orchestrated a successful, lucrative run.