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Yoan Pablo Hernandez Upsets Steve Cunningham Via Suspect Technical Decision

Yoan Pablo Hernandez now holds the IBF cruiserweight title, but not without a lot of controversy. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Yoan Pablo Hernandez now holds the IBF cruiserweight title, but not without a lot of controversy. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Bongarts/Getty Images

Yoan Pablo Hernandez is the new IBF cruiserweight titleholder, but the circumstances of his win are not exactly bringing about celebration from boxing fans.

Hernandez won the title from Steve Cunningham after six rounds via technical decision, winning on scores of 58-55, 59-54 and 56-57. Bad Left Hook had it 57-56 for Cunningham at the time of the stoppage, and it would be damn hard to convince most anyone that Hernandez won four of the six rounds, let alone five of six.

Cunningham (24-3, 12 KO) was floored hard in the opening round by a left hand counter from Hernandez (25-1, 13 KO), and it appeared that he wouldn't make it back to his feet. But he did, and referee Mickey Vann let the fight continue. Hernandez tried to close the show, but Cunningham just barely held on, and made it out of the round.

By the fourth round, Cunningham was in a solid groove and taking control of the action. A hard clash of heads opened a cut high over Hernandez's temple in the third round. The Cuban pawed at the cut a lot, but it didn't seem in a place that was badly affecting his vision or anything.

Now there are two things at play here:

  • The headbutt was ruled accidental, but -- and this is no knock on Cunningham -- it could easily be viewed as intentional. He came in pretty hard with it and those heads smashed together. Should Mickey Vann have ruled that intentional, even docked points?
  • Vann could easily have stopped the fight in the first round as Cunningham flopped around like a fish out of water. So why didn't he? The cut was not so bad that the fight should have been stopped, and when it was, confusion reigned. Vann is the referee who threw the towel back out of the ring during the Katsidis vs Earl fight. Why the sudden rush of caution from him?

After the fight, Cunningham said he felt like he was "set up" and that he'd "been had," questioning why the fight wasn't stopped earlier, before it would have gone to the scorecards, and why it was stopped when it was. These are questions people are going to have, quite frankly, and it's hard to blame them. Something isn't quite right here, whatever it is.