By Alexey Sukachev
Jahnsportforum in Neubrandenburg, Germany - WBA interim-champion Yoan Pablo Hernadnez (25-1, 13KOs) won a six round technical split decision over Steve Cunningham (24-3, 12KOs) to capture the IBF cruiserweight title. The scores were 57-56 for Cunningham, and 58-55 and 59-54 for Hernandez.
Hernandez, a tall and technically sound southpaw, layed his trumps on the table in the opening stanza. Most of the first round was fought on even terms, but then Hernandez used an overhand left which dropped Cunningham twenty seconds before the bell. The champion was stunned so badly that he barely made it up. The count, issued by the referee, seemed to be a bit longer than usual even though the American did a great job in surviving until the bell.
Round two was also in favor of the Cuban expatriate but in the third the champion gradually turned more and more aggressive and landed several punches on Hernandez. However, the biggest damage - a huge cut on the left side of the Cuban's forehead - was made by the American's head and not his punches.
The see-saw action continued for three more rounds. Both fighters had their moments but the fight was more tactical than thrilling. The American used his left jab to great effect, and the Cuban landed big left hooks on occassion.
In round six, in the middle of the action, both fighters collided with their heads once again, and Hernandez suffered a visible concussion. Between the rounds, his coach Ulli Wegner insisted that his fighter could no longer continue, and the contest was halted by referee Mickey Vann immediately after that.
The scorecards were called in for evaluation and after a short period of doubts, two judges scored the contest for the Cuban - 58-55 (Dave Parris), which was too wide, and 59-54 (Pawel Kardyni), which was way off the mark as well - while British judge Mark Foster had it 56-57 - for the champion.