Yoan Pablo Hernandez outpointed Steve Cunningham today in Germany, in a fight that showed both men at their best. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Our live coverage of the Hernandez vs Cunningham card continues here, with the European cruiserweight title fight between Enad Licina and Alexander Alexeev coming up next.
Yoan Pablo Hernandez became the new Ring Magazine cruiserweight champion of the world and retained his IBF title in a back-and-forth battle against Steve Cunningham today in Germany, winning by unanimous decision on scores that may seem a bit wide by most tastes, but with little argument about Hernandez being named the winner of the fight.
Hernandez won on scores of 116-110, 116-110, and 115-111. Bad Left Hook scored it 114-112 for the Cuban.
Hernandez (26-1, 13 KO) performed brilliantly in the early rounds, taking the first three rounds on most scorecards, though Cunningham (24-4, 12 KO) was definitely having his moments.
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The fight nearly ended in the fourth round, when Hernandez caught Cunningham with a monstrous left hand, flooring the American. It looked like Cunningham wouldn't even make it to his feet, but he did. Immediately as the fight restarted, Hernandez put him down again, though not on a big shot. Cunningham managed to survive that and, indeed, the rest of the round -- somehow. With his legs jelly and Hernandez doing a pretty good job not letting his opponent tie up, Cunningham still got out of the fourth round and carried on.
And then Cunningham turned the tide of the fight. With Hernandez tiring progressively through each round, Cunningham dug in with great body shots and started setting the pace of the fight, dragging himself back into the fight round by round, many of which were close, and a few of which ultimately went to Hernandez on the judges' scorecards.
In the 12th round, Cunningham was badly shaken again, but managed to get his legs back quickly and storm back at Hernandez. Both looked for a knockout in the final round, as neither man appeared confident that the fight was won. It turned out that Hernandez basically had the fight sewn up by that point, but he and trainer Ulli Wegner knew it was close, and Hernandez fought like it was a do-or-die round.
The main thing to remember here is not the judges' scorecards, but rather that this was a terrific fight, a true championship bout where both men showed heart, hunger, and determination. Steve Cunningham fought his ass off in this one, but simply came up short in the end. Whether or not the scores were wide is up for you to decide, but our hats are off to both men for a tremendous 12 rounds of high-level boxing.