Yoan Pablo Hernandez (23-1, 12 KOs) will challenge WBA Interim Cruiserweight Champion Steve Herelius (21-1, 12 KOs) on Team Sauerland´s big show in Mulheim, Germany on February 12. Boxing-online.com has caught up with the hard-hitting Cuban ahead of the biggest fight of his career.
Q: Yoan Pablo, you can finally accomplish your big goal of winning a world title. How did you find out about the fight?
YPH: “I won the eliminator in Berlin in December when I knocked out Ali Ismailov in the first round to become mandatory challenger. So I knew the fight would be coming. But I did not expect it to happen that quickly. Just after the new year had started, my coach Ulli Wegner sent me a text message saying I should be in the gym on Monday morning (January 3) because I would get the world title fight.”
Q: How did you react?
YPH: “I was very happy. Becoming world champion is as good as it gets. And I am ready to win the title.”
Q: You will be fighting Steve Herelius. How do you rate him?
YPH: “He is a very strong guy. He showed that against Firat Arslan. He punches a lot and he is very active. But his defence has a lot of openings. That could be my chance.”
Q: Where have you prepared for the fight?
YPH: “We have trained in Berlin all the time. We have everything we need at the Max-Schmeling-Gym. The facilities are great.”
Q: In 2005, you came to Germany, first to Halle an der Saale and then to Berlin. That was a big step in your life. How have things been going for you in Germany? What are you missing and what are enjoying over here?
YPH: “Of course it was not easy at the beginning. I had high expectations. But I was really missing my family. My mother and my father still live in Cuba, I have not seen them since leaving the country. I have four brothers and three sisters in Cuba, while my fifth brother, Yoel Romero, is also living in Germany. I am missing the sun. In Cuba, we were just hanging out in the sun, meeting our friends – that was great. It´s different in Germany. But I have experienced some great moments over here. My girlfriend Sally gave birth to our son Yoan Jr. And I enjoy the tranquillity and quietness there is in Germany. It helps to relax. I also enjoy Berlin, especially in summer when the sun comes out.”
Q: Team Sauerland has a lot of great cruiserweights, including WBO Champion Marco Huck and IBF Champion Steve Cunningham. Are you on the same level as they are?
YPH: “We are completely different fighters, which makes a comparison very difficult. Cunningham is very active. He is fundamentally very sound thanks to the American boxing school and he has a great punching technique. Huck is different – his biggest weapon is his power. He hits incredibly hard. It´s hard to rate myself, but I would say that I am the fighter with the best technique. However, I need make sure I control my stamina inside the ring and that I take advantage of my speed.”