By Jake Donovan
Firat Arslan refuses to go away quietly. The 43-year old cruiserweight is still hovering around the contender level of the cruiserweight division, anxious to make history. He gets his chance this Saturday evening when he squares off versus lineal cruiserweight king Yoan Pablo Hernandez in Erfurt, Germany.
A win by Arslan–a former titlist who has since come up short in a pair title shots versus Marco Huck—would make him the oldest fighter in the history of the division to claim any piece of the crown and by far the oldest ever to win the lineal championship.
"I want to become the oldest cruiserweight champion of all time. I know that this is my last chance to glory and I did everything in preparation to make my dream come true," Arslan stated during Wednesday's pre-fight press conference.
Arslan (34-7-2, 21KOs) briefly reigned as a cruiserweight titlist. Ironically, the age record of which he's in pursuit is held by the man whom he defeated to begin his own title reign. Virgil Hill was 42 years old when he began his second run as a cruiserweight titlist, though not fighting again in a title fight until nearly two years later, losing to Arslan in the final fight of his career.
Less than a year later, Arslan was an ex-champion, suffering a 10th round knockout versus Guillermo Jones. The loss was followed by a two-year hiatus, only to suffer a second consecutive knockout as he was stopped in 11 rounds by Steve Herelius in July '10.
Three straight wins followed, leading to what was believed at the time to be Arslan's last shot at becoming a two-time champ. Then 42-years old, Arslan would have surpassed Hill's mark by two months had the judges properly rewarded him for what many believed to be a title-winning effort over Huck in their Nov. '12 clash. Instead, Arslan landed on the wrong side of one of the worst decisions of 2012.
The rematch proved far more conclusive, though not in the manner in which Arslan preferred. Huck floored the ex-champ twice en route to a 6th round stoppage, once again leading many to believe the clock had struck midnight on Arslan's career, his 17-year anniversary as a pro.
A tune-up win has since followed in advance of the surprise opportunity to face Hernandez (28-1, 14KOs) this weekend.
"Coach Fritz Sdunek is going to be my key factor against Hernandez," Arslan insists. "When I fought Huck for the second time, I made many mistakes, which are not going to happen again. You will see my best performance—ever—on Saturday."
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox