Middleweight champ Sturm to end hiatus

Updated: July 19, 2010, 3:38 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Middleweight titlist Felix Sturm of Germany, idle since last July, will return to the ring Sept. 4 in his hometown of Cologne.

Although Sturm hasn't formally announced his opponent, multiple sources with knowledge of the agreement told ESPN.com that he would face former title challenger Marco Antonio Rubio.

A press conference was scheduled for Thursday.

Sturm was inactive because he was locked in a legal dispute over his contract with promoter Universum. Two weeks ago, Sturm and Universum reached a settlement under which Sturm bought out his contract and became a free agent.

Sturm (33-2-1, 14 KOs) is working on the comeback fight with another German promoter, Arena Box.

Sturm went through several potential opponents before coming to terms with Mexico's Rubio, including former welterweight titleholder Kermit Cintron. Former welterweight and junior middleweight titlist Ricardo Mayorga's name was also mentioned.

"We have negotiated with different fighters from overseas, but for some reason most of them asked for crazy money," Sturm said. "I don't know what they're thinking. Here in Germany I got calls from fighters with decent records who wanted to fight me for free -- just for the shot at the title."

In February 2009, Rubio (47-5-1, 40 KOs) challenged Kelly Pavlik for the recognized world championship and was stopped in the ninth round. Rubio has bounced back with four wins in a row.

Sturm said he didn't believe his long layoff would negatively impact him.

"I feel great at the moment," he said. "I chose to take a break to spend some time with my wife and my newborn son. It was good not to think about boxing all the time and not to count the calories on every meal. Now I am all fired up to get back into the ring. I cannot wait for my comeback. I am even looking forward to the hard weeks of preparation and training camp, and I will prove that I got no ring rust whatsoever."

Sturm has made seven defenses during his third reign with the WBA version of the 160-pound title since regaining it for a second time in 2007. Sturm is best known in the United States for his controversial title loss to Oscar De La Hoya in Las Vegas in 2004.

Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer.