By Kamel Messani
This coming Saturday, WBA interim-cruiserweight champion Steve Herelius (21-1, 12KOs) will step in the ring at the RWE Rhein-Ruhr Sporthalle in Muelheim, Germany to defend his title against Yoan Pablo Hernandez (23-1, 12 KOs). The winner will also enter the planned Super Six cruiserweight tournament, which being put together by Sauerland Event.
BoxingScene.com: What is your state of mind as your championship fight gets closer?
I am calm, confident and determined, contrary to my fight against [Firat] Arslan before which I was a little stressed because it was my first major international event. This time though, I am thinking only about boxing and Hernandez.
BoxingScene.com: How was your preparation?
It was very heavy and long. I have been training seriously for this fight for a month. I had to face Hernandez in December, so I was ready to work with my long time coach Joseph Germain. I, too, could refine and intensify my training in Miami under the direction of Cuban coach Roberto Quesata. The latter, in particular, worked with Brahim Asloum and Anne Sophie Mathis. He also produced many Olympic Cuban champions. I feel very good physically and have not encountered any weight problem. I, too, have had many fights with local boxers including former world WBC challenger Jason Robinson, who is a very good boxer and should have been world champion because he never lost his battle Krzysztof Wlodarczyk. In summary, I am very fit and am ready to do a good performance.
BoxingScene.com: Like Hernandez, the trainer who prepared you is Cuban. ...
Do not tell me you think he has given all information to his fellow! (Laughter)
More seriously, Roberto is a great professional and knows better than anyone the Cuban school because, as I said earlier, it has produced many Olympic champions. I think it is best placed to adopt a strategy that can counteract the style of Hernandez. I must say that I had very good conditions for training. First, my preparation was complete. Nothing has been neglected, both the physical and the technical and tactical battles by doing practices. It has also been very intense. I suffered a lot. I was not in Miami for a holiday but to work hard. Finally, my preparation was specific because I worked on specifics, according to the strengths and weaknesses of my opponent.
BoxingScene.com: What motivated you for this fight?
Above all the challenge. If you want to become the best, you must beat the best and I think Hernandez is one of the best light heavyweights in the world. Like what everyone says and thinks, Germany does not scare me. Quite the contrary, it gives me extra motivation. If I had listened to have said, I never faced Arslan because everyone told me that while I was fighting, judges do not give me the decision.
BoxingScene.com: Does this mean that you prefer to fight on the outside rather than in France?
It is true that when I box in France, I am happy because I perform in front of my audience. Nevertheless, I confess that I feel stronger when I feel that a victory will have more merit.What I mean by that is that the victory of a foreigner in Germany has always something special so this is rare and even impossible for some. It gives me more adrenaline and pushes me to give the best of myself.
BoxingScene.com: Another victory in Germany you could provide great opportunities
It is true that I have gained more recognition in my fight in Germany against Arslan with all my other games. Germany is a great country, boxing, nothing is left to chance. The Germans do not do things by halves. Also, long before my fight against Arslan, I had the chance to train several times in Germany. I was able to cross gloves with tops heavyweights such as Wladimir Klitschko, Valuev and Povetkin. I confess to appreciate their expertise.
Regarding my fight against Hernandez, I am sure that if the powerful promoter Sauerland has chosen me for this match, it is in large part due to my performance against Arslan. This win has really gained recognition beyond the Rhine.
BoxingScene.com: Your fight against Hernandez will be just a simple defense of your title, or is there something else?
Officially, this is a mandatory title defense because Hernandez is the official challenger to the WBA cuiserweight title. However, unofficially, this is more than a championship fight for the WBA-interim. The real challenge is a place in Super Six tournament involving the best cruiserweights. The winner could then end up with three belts. This fight against Hernandez is thus a kind of fighting for playoff that is part of the Super Six tournament.
BoxingScene.com: What do you know about Hernandez?
He is a very good boxer, he is not a nobody. He is now the official challenger WBA because he has proven himself. He is one of the best cruisers today. Thus, like most Cuban boxers, he is a very good technician. He can hurt, even in early times, and can adapt to different styles. It is better to have it with you than against you! (Laughs)
However, like all boxers, he also has weaknesses that I will expose.
BS: What do you dread most about him?
Frankly, everything and nothing at once. He is a very experienced boxer with a great and rich amateur career behind him. Although he was never champion among professionals is a regular major events. From my side, I have not underestimated him. I trained hard for the deal. We will see what will happen in the ring.
BoxingScene.com: Right, for you, what are the keys to this battle?
Unlike my battle against Arslan, during which I had guts to challenge him physically, he seems more tactical Hernandez. I also believe victory will come back to that testify to the greater desire to win. As I told you, I trained according to its qualities and weaknesses. But boxing is not an exact science. I am confident in my arguments, but am also aware that I would have before me a hell of a boxer.
BoxingScene.com: What will you do if you win?
I have not really thought about it. I do not think about anything, frankly, other than Hernandez. But it is certain that if I win I will join the Super Six tournament and compete with the best including Steve Cunningham, Marco Huck and Denis Lebedev.
BoxingScene.com: What will you do in case of defeat?
If this happens, it happens. But for now, I do not know.
BoxingScene.com: What message would you like to send to your fans at BoxingScene?
The 12th of February will be a special day for Steve Herelius on Direct 8. I suggest you don’t miss it. Two warriors will face off in a ring with the same goal of victory. I'll do anything to be victorious.