By Danny Winterbottom
In a battle between two southpaws of contrasting physical stature it was the 6ft 4” German
based Cuban Yoan Pablo Hernandez who held onto his IBF cruiserweight title in somewhat controversial circumstances via a unanimous decision over the much smaller but powerful Canadian Troy Ross inside the 7,000 seat Stechert Arena in Bamberg, Germany, Saturday Sep 15.
27-year-old Hernandez, 13st 11lbs, came into the 2nd defence of the world title he won with a pair of victories over American Steve Cunningham in the form of his life, with nine straight wins under his belt since Wayne Braithwaite crushed him in three rounds back in 2008 and was expected to have a trouble free night with a man 10 years his senior and who had fought only once in two years.
But almost immediately it was apparent that Ross had travelled to Bavaria with victory on his mind. Hernandez towered over his 5ft 11ins challenger and began the opening session behind his cultured southpaw jab. Ross, crouching low when letting his shots go inside, managed to find the chin of Hernandez with a sweetly timed right hook after a left from the champion just missed its intended target. Ross , 13st 11lbs,fired a jab downstairs but Hernandez, who was putting a lot into each of his shots, did the cleaner work to take the round on my card.
Ross began the second stanza by punishing the champion for posing in ring centre. A solid one two sprung Hernandez into life as both men exchanged heavy blows. Hernandez clipped Ross with a right hand causing the challenger to stumble forward as the pair tangled up along the ropes.
Hernandez tasted the canvas in the third but only after an over eager Ross had missed wildly with a punch forcing him to the floor. Ross began to swing wildly with punches delivered from his ankles and one such punch caught Hernandez behind the back of the head as he leaned forward. The champion was dazed and Ross needed no second invitation to let more haymakers fly. His lack of ability to find a telling blow in the follow up exchanges may have cost him the fight. With the champion on unsteady legs Ross hurled hooks from the very tip of his toes in a desperate attempt to finish the champion.
A huge right hand missed by a mile and Ross ended up face first on the canvas. Hernandez was still fighting through the fog of that first clubbing right but bravely fought back and pummelled Ross with three right hands of his own to end a great round.
More caution from both men was the theme of round four. Ross pawed from the outside with his jab as he waited to spring into life. Hernandez however was giving him less of a target to shoot for as the punches he took in the previous round caused the champion to be less gung-ho in his approach.
A Ross double jab started the fifth but the high guard of Hernandez deflected the blows. A solid right hand from the champion was countered sharply by a left hook from Ross. Hernandez hadn’t learned from his mistake as another left hook from the southpaw stance shockingly dropped him. Ross moved in for the finish as Hernandez seemed badly hurt. Again Ross struggled to find that telling blow but the mere presence of the Canadian was enough to cause Hernandez to stumble over again as his legs failed to support his 6ft 4” frame. Hernandez found enough punches in retaliation to ward off Ross before the bell came to his rescue.
Ross came out firing haymakers as he looked to finish the champion in round six. Hernandez, told in no uncertain terms to keep his hands up by trainer Ulli Wegner during the minutes break, caught Ross with a counter left as the challenger missed wildly. With more control to his boxing the IBF champion was finding a home for his jab as he began to utilise his reach advantage, poking out the right into the face of Ross.
Hernandez improvement continued into the seventh as he boxed well behind the jab. Ross exploded with a right hand but Hernandez slipped the shot and landed a three punch combination before moving away.
Rather than jump in with lead hooks that Hernandez was picking off, Ross started the eighth with a double jab but his corner made clear they wanted him to triple it up. Hernandez showed his class with a beautifully delivered right hook that he doubled up to head and body. As soon as Ross saw the gap between the pair close he would explode with wide, arcing punches but the boxing skills of the champion had brought him back into contention.
Round nine saw a terrific sequence of punches exchanged between the pair of well-matched cruiserweights. Hernandez, circling the ring, was managing to avoid the heavy blows from the challenger but the moment he stopped Ross was on him like a shot. A right hand seemed to buzz Hernandez momentarily and he fired straight back at the Canadian. It was Ross’ turn to feel the power of the champion as he appeared hurt. As the action began to hot up and the pair swing for the fences Hernandez again found himself stung, this time from a Ross left. Not to be outdone Hernandez fired a right then a left that found the chin of Ross as the crowd roared its approval.
The championship rounds saw both men tiring and the quality of work drop. Ross continued to bombard Hernandez at every opportunity finding the Cuban surprisingly easy to hit. Hernandez stalked the challenger but struggled to pull the trigger when he had his man trapped on the ropes.
The final session saw a concentrated Ross have the better of the exchanges as Hernandez appeared dead tired.
The bell sounded to end the contest and both men raised their arms in victory. Ross felt he had done enough and when the unanimous decision was rendered in favour of Hernandez the crowd booed. Mickey Vann scored the contest 115-112, Michael Pernick 114-113 and Benny Decroos 116-112. For the record my scorecard read 116-112 for Ross who put on a fantastic display and can feel himself unlucky not to be going home to Canada with the IBF belt. Hernandez boxed well at times but was easy to hit and hurt with clubbing blows that doesn’t bode well if, as rumoured, he is to face Marko Huck next.
Hernandez improved to 27-1 (13) whilst Ross fell to 25-3 (16)
In a middleweight rematch bout Roberto Santos, 18-6-2-(10) scored an eighth round tko win over the previously unbeaten Dominik Britsch, 26-1-1-(9) to claim the vacant European Union title. Britsch had outboxed Santos until the end of round seven when Santos floored him with a series of body shots. In round eight, Santos got the stoppage after a combination of unanswered punches after 0.:45.
In a heavyweight bout unbeaten Edmund Gerber 21-0-(14), scored a fourth round stoppage win over of former British champ Michael Sprott, 36-19-(17). Sprott appeared to be winning the fight comfortably until Gerber caught Sprott and sent him over. The referee appeared too quick to stop the fight much to the annoyance of Sprott, who shoved the referee.
In a match between two unbeaten cruiserweights, Mateusz Masternak battered David Quinonero 27-1-(26), for seven rounds until the fight was stopped.
At middleweight Marcos Nader, 16-0-(2),out-pointed Damien Bertu over 10 by scores of 99-91, 99-91, 98-92.
September 15, 2012