There were no surprises for Glen Burnie boxer Chuck Sturm Monday night in Atlantic City.
As predicted by his manager-trainer, Frank Gilbert, Sturm beat his opponent Vinnie Burgese of South Philly, but didn't get credit for it and will be invited back to fight again in the city of casinos.
Burgese (21-2-1) was handed a highly questionable unanimous decision by a three-ring circus in their 10-round junior welterweight scrap.
Fighting in his first-ever nationally televised bout on Home Team Sports via Sportschannel at Harrah's Marina, Sturm (22-3-1) was clearly the aggressor, especially in the late rounds, and clearly the winner in everyone's eyes except for the three judges.
Two of the judges scored it 96-94 in favor of Burgese, while a third who didn't appear to be watching the same fight, ruled it 98-92 in favor of the hometown boy.
Gilbert had said before taking the hike up to Atlantic City where there are more than stacked decks in the gambling parlors, "We will have to knock him out to win, I'm pretty sure because anything close up there will go to the local guy. That's what it is."
Unfortunately, it is true and too bad because it's crap like that that turns people off to boxing.
It's pretty sad when you hear the TV announcers working the fight say things in the late rounds like, "I've got him (Sturm) leading 86-85 as we enter the 10th.
"Sturm on sheer guts and determination has come back to brawl with the more classy Burgese, and has taken his style right away from him . . .
Burgese has nothing going with his left hand (his best punch) in the last five rounds. He's not able to dictate with that left hand the way he was in the early rounds. Weariness is a big reason why."
Noting Sturm's anonymity as a 25-year-old from Glen Burnie in gold trunks, the announcers said in the last round, "Sturm is fighting like this fight is his, whereas Burgese is trying to hang in there and win the round.
Burgese needed to get going in the seventh, eighth and ninth rounds, but seemed to stay very quiet over there in his corner."
Then, one of the TV guys hit it right on dead-center with, "Maybe they know something we don't, but from here it looks like the fight is slipping away from Burgese and maybe already has."
No way with those three casino sharpies doing the judging and looking to keep their jobs in Atlantic City.
As the fight ended, one of the announcers concluded with what all of us who watched the fight believed, when he said, "If they had this fight on the street, Sturm wins it, and I think he won it on the score card, too."
Well, he would have if it had been on the up and up, but instead it was highway robbery as ring announcer Ed Darian proclaimed "winner by unanimous decision: South Philadelphia's Vinnie Burgese."
When Darian announced the third judge Frank Cairo's calculations at 98-92 in favor of Burgese, it even caused the pro-Burgese capacity crowd of 1,500 to grumble a bit.
Upon hearing the final decision, one of the TV broadcasters accurately said, "I think it's a bad call for Sturm, because he was effectively aggressive, and I think Sturm got the short end of this one."
Sturm truly did, in what turned out to be the inside marathon the former Old Mill High state wrestling champion and his corner predicted. Sturm's camp expected Burgese to come straight in and he did, but Sturm answered with more aggressive and skilled firepower.
Burgese spent most of the final five rounds on the ropes or trying to ward off Sturm's relentless body attack. Sturm continually pummeled the mid-section and sides of his opponent.
In what was the 15th time in his last 18 fights going the distance, Sturm, who is believed to have more pro total rounds of experience than any other Maryland boxer, dominated from this corner. Burgese may have won a couple of the early rounds, but as the fight wore on, Sturm's determination, conditioning and basic skills in mixing it up inside were evident.
"That's what everybody says, even in the people in Philadelphia, that Chuck won the fight," said Sturm veteran trainer Jimmy Hines.
"They told us 'you got robbed.' I figured, well, if it goes the limit, we're going to lose, but I did think we would at least get a draw. But you can't win on a decision up here."
Hines said Sturm carried out the camp's strategy to perfection by staying inside and working the body.
"Chuck fought a good fight and followed instructions to a T," said Hines. "He got a little tired, which was expected, and everybody knows he works the body really well."
Sturm had said going into the fight he had to concentrate on Burgese's head and elbows to avoid being head-butted and getting cut. He got cut, but the experts in his corner patched it up magnificently.
In the third round, Burgese landed a left hook just under Sturm's right eye and a slight cut appeared. Hines and his cut-man Norman Sharpe performed their corner magic, and suddenly the gash was a closed case.