Monday, March 20, 2023  |



Q&A: Cruiserweight champion Yoan Pablo Hernandez


Yoan Pablo Hernandez (L) fighting Alexander Alekseev in November 2013. Photo by Martin Rose – Bongarts/Getty Images.

On Saturday Yoan Pablo Hernandez will fight for the first time in nine months when he looks to defend his RING and IBF cruiserweight titles against grizzled veteran Firat Arslan in Erfurt, Germany.

The 29-year-old Cuban ex-patriot had hoped to defend his titles earlier this year before being sidelined with a viral condition.

Following time to recuperate, Hernandez (28-1, 14 knockouts) is now keen to return against the aggressive Arslan.

“It’s a new challenge for me,” Hernandez told from his training base at the Max Schmeling Gym in Berlin, through translator Thomas Schlabe of Sauerland Event. “I have not fought against such an aggressive fighter for years. But first and foremost, I’m glad to finally return to the ring after being ill for such a long time. Now, I’m in perfect shape to deliver another great fight.”

Looking further into the future the bout many fans would like to see is Hernandez against Marco Huck, which would settle any debate as to who the best cruiserweight in the world is. The two are stablemates, sharing the same promoter, which always helps. However, both work under the watchful eye of esteemed trainer Uli Wegner, which could present problems.

Under the right circumstance Hernandez is interested in a meeting with his rival for divisional supremacy.

“Money as well as future perspectives talk,” said Hernandez. “So if I would leave our coach out of this discussion, I am open to fight everyone – Marco Huck included.”

Here’s what Hernandez had to say when spoke with him a couple weeks prior to the Arslan fight.

Anson Wainwright – You will have seen Firat Arslan fight many times, most recently against stablemate Marco Huck. What do you think Arslan brings to the table in this fight?

Yoan Pablo Hernandez – He’s a warrior inside the ring – that’s his biggest asset. His never-give-up mentality will not be that easy to handle. Still, I’m confident to beat him. I got that confidence from my lone loss in the pro ranks versus Wayne Braithwaite (in 2008). Nearly all my wins afterwards depend on that experience. So, Wayne, thank you for showing me the hard way to the top.

AW – Earlier this year Arslan was stopped in the sixth round against Huck. Do you look at that result and see it as something you want to better and make a statement?

YPH – You can’t compare Marco’s and my style of boxing. He has brute strength where I’m a more technical boxer. Of course I want to entertain the crowd but in the end a win is a win.

AW – Your last fight was stopping Alexander Alekseev in 10 rounds last November – talk us through that fight and the stoppage.

YPH – I saw the fight on tape but to be honest, I can’t hardly remember anything what did happen that night. When fight week for the Alekseev bout started, I got diarrhea. I never felt that weak ahead of a fight. I got medicine to make it stop before I entered the ring, but my body felt weak. From Round 5 on, I was about to collapse. The only thing that got me through was the voice of my coach as he said, “Think about your family, about your children.” If I hadn’t landed that knockout punch in Round 10, I would have collapsed from pure exhaustion.

AW – Following that win you were going to fight earlier this year, however I believe plans were curtailed when you suffered a viral infection causing you to pull out of a fight with Pawel Kolodziej. Can you tell us about this?

YPH – This all hails back from the circumstances of the Alekseev fight. I made a mistake not taking a full checkup by a doctor afterwards and it showed as I was about to start my training camp for Kolodziej. I felt even weaker as the viral infection must have settled down inside my body. Therefore, I had to cancel this title defense and it took until early May to finally get rid of it.

AW – All of your former Cuban amateur teammates that defected are now based in Miami, Florida, while you’ve stayed in Germany. Do you get any opportunity to speak with Guillermo Rigondeaux, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Odlanier Solis, etc.?

YPH – When I went to Canastota for the Hall of Fame ceremony in 2012 I met Gamboa and (Erislandy) Lara, we had a nice chat. It’s always nice to talk to the guys. I already had contact with them and Solis from 2006 until 2008, when they did fight out of Germany after their defection.

AW – What are your thoughts on the cruiserweight division?

YPH – There are a lot up and comers, especially from Africa. I wish all of them good luck and maybe one day they will share the ring with me. At the moment, cruiserweight is definitely a stronger division than heavyweight. Nearly every title fight at cruiserweight spells pure entertainment. You can’t say that about the heavyweights.

AW – Many boxing fans would like to see you against Marco Huck. The two of you share the same promoter and even trainer, however it would appear to be the biggest fight for either of you at cruiserweight. Is this a fight that you could see happening?

YPH – Money as well as future perspectives talk. So if I would leave our coach out of this discussion, I am open to fight everyone – Marco Huck included.

AW – Previously you told me that you were allowed to enter Cuba, have you taken up that opportunity as yet?

YPH – No, but that had a lot to do with my sickness. I hope to fulfil this dream by the end of 2014.

AW – Away from boxing what do you enjoy doing?

YPH – I love tunes. I like old-timers, especially from the U.S.

AW – What goals do you still have in boxing?

YPH – To stay on top of the cruiserweight division as long as possible, hopefully getting the chance to unify some of the world titles.

AW – In closing do you have a message for Arslan?

YPH – May the best man win.

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at