By Jake Donovan
World cruiserweight champion Yoan Pablo Hernandez will make the fourth defense of his lineal crown versus unbeaten Pawel Kolodziej on March 8 at Max Schmelling Halle in Berlin, Germany.
The bout will mark Hernandez’ first ring appearance of 2014, and second fight since returning to the ring last November following a lengthy absence while healing an assortment of injuries.
“Since becoming a world champion, Pablo exclusively had to fight the top-rated contenders of the IBF,” Uli Wegner, Hernandez’ head trainer said of his fighter, who has made three consecutive mandatory title defenses of the alphabet belt he also carries in tow. “With Kolodziej, you can number four to that list (of tough challenges).”
Kolodziej (33-0, 18KO) engages in his first world title fight. The hulking Pol is coming off of a three-win campaign in 2013, including a shutout of faded former light heavyweight contender Richard Hall.
Hernandez (28-1, 14KO) enjoyed a triumphant ring return last November, scoring a 10 th round knockout of Alexande Alekseev. The Cuban-born southpaw, based out of Germany where he has spent virtually his entire pro career thus far, has won 14 straight dating back to March 2008.
Included among his win streak is a pair of wins over Steve Cunningham, the first of which began his current title reign in Oct. ’11. The rematch proved far more convincing, dropping the American twice en route to a comfortable points win in Feb. ’12.
Hernandez’ other title defense was a much greater struggle, fortunate to edge out Canada’s Troy Ross in their Sept. ’12 bout. Hernandez scored a unanimous decision win, in a bout that many felt a case could have easily been made for the visiting challenger.
The bout was his last for more than a year, when injuries prevented the reigning champ from returning to the ring in a timely fashion. In spending 14 months on the sidelines, Hernandez underwent surgery to repair his oft-damaged left hand. A titanium plate was implanted, thus earning his ‘Iron Man’ nickname.
The 29-year old looked as good as new versus Alekseev, overcoming pockets of nervous moments to score an emphatic knockout. His upcoming title defense is treated as the same type of threat he views every challenge, which he promises to rise to the occasion.
“Number one or number 15 (ranked)—this is still for the championship of the world,” Hernandez points out. “There are no easy opponents when you are at the top of your division. I always have to prove that I am the best in the world and that is what I will do again come March 8.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America . Twitter: @JakeNDaBox Tags: Yoan Pablo Hernandez , Pawel Kolodziej , Hernandez-Kolodziej , Hernandez vs. Kolodziej