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The sudden demise of Yoan Pablo Hernandez


BoztheMadman
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This fighter really had an interesting career. As a Cuban amateur star who was snapped by German promoter Kalle Sauerland, he was highly touted and despite suffering an early knockout loss to Wayne Braithwaite, he went on to make his name as a cruiserweight IBF champion, dethroning and twice beating Steve Cunningham. After making 4 defenses of the belt, Hernandez suddenly disappeared from the radar sometime after 2014, after being stripped for inactivity in 2015 due to an injury. He would reappear much later, in 2020, as a heavyweight, but lost his so far only fight there by knockout. At 6'4, muscular, with above average boxing skills and good punching power, Hernandez looked poised to become a major star. And for a while he was on the right path. But, a bad injury sidelined him and put a serious dent on his career. Here is the story of Yoan Pablo Hernandez, one of the last stars in German boxing so far.

 

He was born 28 October 1984 in Pinar del Rio, Cuba. His older half-brother is Yoel Romero, amateur wrestling champion who won the silver medal at the 2000 Olympics and later fought in the UFC as MMA fighter. Yoan Pablo started boxing as amateur at a very young age and first won the silver at the 2001 Under 17 Cadet World Championships at 201 pounds/91 kg. Already then he was a big boy. Next year, he won the World Junior Championships as a heavyweight, in Santiago de Cuba. In 2003, he was knocked out by Odlanier Solis in 3 rounds at a national competition. That same year he won the silver at the Pan American championships in Santo Domingo, yet as a light heavyweight. He then qualified for the 2004 Olympics, also as a light heavy, but was eliminated in the second round against Evgeny Makarenko of Russia, 18-30 on points. After winning the national championships in 2005, he was then brought to Germany by Sauerland to start his pro career. He was trained by Ulli Wegner. He debuted on 3 September against David Vicena and easily dispatched the 0-2 Vicena by a TKO2. That fight was actually fought above cruiserweight, as were a few others after it, but soon Hernandez became a cruiserweight and in June 2007 knocked out Thomas Hansvoll, former world title challenger, in only 1 round. Hansvoll had also won the minor WBO Intercontinental cruiser title before. Only 2 months later, Hernandez also destroyed Daniel Bispo in 1 round to win the vacant WBA Fedelatin title. He defended it at the end of the year against Mohamed Azzaoui and once again scored a KO1! With that, he also won the vacant WBC Latino title. Azzaoui had just come off a TKO4 loss to Enzo Macarinelli in a fight for the WBO title.

 

On 29 March next year, Hernandez faced Wayne Braithwaite, the former WBC-champion, who was 4 inches shorter, but a dangerous puncher and offensive figther. Hernandez opened best and sent Braithwaite down in the first round, but in the third he was down three times and stopped. It was no shame to lose to a guy like Braithwaite, who was still not finished as a fighter. He progressed and scored a few more wins, such as the one over Michael Simms, who put him down once but Hernandez won by MD8. On 17 October 2009, he fought against Enad Licina for the IBF Intercontinental title and won by UD12. After defending the title once on points against Cesar David Crenz, he vacated it to concentrate on something bigger. On 12 February 2011, he took on Steve Herelius, who had come off a TKO victory over Firat Arslan and was now the interim WBA champion. French-born Herelius was also considerably shorter but physically very strong and could punch. However, Yoan Pablo dominated the fight and was ahead on all scorecards after 6 rounds. He then put Herelius down twice in round 7 to end the fight there. He soon got an offer to fight Steve Cunningham, who had just become the IBF champion for the second time, tho under controversial circumstances. The fight was again in Germany, on 1 October that year, and Hernandez surprised everyone by dropping the tough Cunningham hard in round 1. Cunningham got up eventually, even though Hernandez later complained he got a slow count. Cunningham eventually got back and made it a fight, but in round 6 it had to be stopped after he accidentally cut Hernandez with his head. The fight went to the scorecards and 2 judges favored Hernandez clearly while the third one favored Cunningham by a point. They had a rematch because of the controversy, 4 February next year, once again in Germany. This time, even though Cunningham went down twice in round 4, the fight went the distance and YPH retained his title for the second time with a UD. It was a close fight but Hernandez earned the decision by staggering Cunningham in the final round.

 

Having twice beaten the man who was back then considered one of the major stars in the division, it seems Hernandez and his management became content to rest on their laurels. Yoan Pablo's next defense was against Troy Ross, the man who Cunningham had beaten controversially for the title earlier. Ross came to fight and made it tough for Hernandez, who in the end retained his title for the second time with a somewhat close UD. He was then absent from the ring for 14 months, before making his third defense against the 6'2 Russian Aleksander Alekseev. Alekseev had previously been stopped by Denis Lebedev and Emilio Ramirez and was coming off a draw against Firat Arslan. The fight happened 23 November 2013 in Bamberg, Germany and after 9 rounds, Hernandez was ahead 87-82 on all scorecards, when he landed a looping right to the jaw which put Alekseev down and out. Before that, Alekseev had been down in rounds 2 and 5. His final defense came on 16 August 2014, against Firat Arslan, the hardy veteran and former WBA champ. It was a tough fight as usual with Arslan when he was in shape and in the end, Hernandez won by a split decision, at Messehalle in Erfurt. In 2015, he suffered an injury not related to boxing, in his meniscus, and had a knee surgery which made him unable to defend. He was therefore stripped on 22 September and IBF belt declared vacant. His promoter stated Hernandez still doesn't intend to retire, but...there were no news from Hernandez or his camp for a long time after that. Finally, on 22 August 2020, he appeared in the ring again, fighting the long-washed up Kevin Johnson, weighing in at 232 1/2 (105 kg) to Johnson's 256 3/4 (116.5 kg). He was obviously just a shadow of himself now and got knocked out in round 7 by a guy who already had 17 losses.

 

His current record is 29(14)-2(2)-0. Aged 36 now, there is no hope that he can get back to anywhere near his old form and stature as a boxer. Yoan Pablo Hernandez was an example of a fighter who was ruined by an injury and simply could not become the same guy again. The reason for his 6-year absence from the ring is unknown to me. At his best, he was a fine fighter and a rather formidable force, due to his physical attributes. He was also a southpaw, which made him hard and tricky to fight for non-southpaws. Thank you.

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Most but not all. Would you call THIS GUY a flop?? I wouldn't. He just last so long on top because of that injury.

 

- -They flop in that they ain't fan friendly and seemingly can't translate projected ama success into equivalent pro success.

 

Rigomortis and Lady Lara perhaps the best examples of this, both stinkers in the ring and at the gate in spite of their nominal success. Gamboa had the fan friendly talent and style, but not the mentality or discipline.

 

The best pro Cubano was Kid Gavilan, but he was pre Castro not burdened by ama style. Even he could be something of a stinker relative to the iridescence of Robby and prevalent sluggers in his day.

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- -They flop in that they ain't fan friendly and seemingly can't translate projected ama success into equivalent pro success.

 

Rigomortis and Lady Lara perhaps the best examples of this, both stinkers in the ring and at the gate in spite of their nominal success. Gamboa had the fan friendly talent and style, but not the mentality or discipline.

 

The best pro Cubano was Kid Gavilan, but he was pre Castro not burdened by ama style. Even he could be something of a stinker relative to the iridescence of Robby and prevalent sluggers in his day.

 

What about Jose Napoles? :cool: He was undisputed champ for a while.

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- -I rate Napoles highly, though perhaps not too intelligent to go up against Carlos Monzon in a preordained result, but again, Napoles not burdened by the Castro ama era. See where I'm going with this?

 

Maybe...:whistle:lol, I mean, yeah. :laugh: But there was also Luis "El Feo" Rodriguez, for instance...a great fighter.

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