Yoan Pablo Hernandez to fight Feb. 4
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Cruiserweight titlist Yoan Pablo Hernandez and former titleholder Steve Cunningham will meet in a mandated rematch of their controversial first bout on Feb. 4, Sauerland Event, which promotes both fighters, announced.
The bout will take place in Frankfurt, Germany.
"We supposed to fight in January and that was delayed and now it is in February, and I am just looking forward to taking my title back," Cunningham said Saturday before attending Andre Ward's victory over Carl Froch in the Super Six World Boxing Classic which unified two super middleweight titles.
"I don't think Hernandez wants to fight me again, but he has to, and I will be ready. I just want to get back in there with him and finish what I started."
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Hernandez (25-1, 13 KOs), a Cuban defector living in Germany, claimed the belt from Philadelphia's Cunningham (24-3, 12 KOs) on Oct. 1 in Neubrandenburg, Germany via sixth-round technical decision. Cunningham protested the decision and the IBF ordered the rematch in October.
"Hernandez against Cunningham, that's as good as it gets in the cruiserweight division. Their first fight was a thriller and I am sure the rematch will be even more exciting," Sauerland Event general manager Chris Meyer said.
The fight was stopped by referee Mickey Vann on the advice of ringside physician Dr. Walter Wegner, who called for the bout to be stopped because of facial cuts Hernandez suffered due to accidental head butts.
The fight went to the scorecards and Hernandez won a technical split decision, 59-54 and 58-55 on two scorecards, while Cunningham was ahead 57-56 on the third.
Although the scoring was hotly debated because many believed Cunningham had clearly won -- despite suffering a knockdown in the first round -- the IBF ordered the rematch because it said the stoppage was incorrect based on the fact that Hernandez's cuts, which he suffered in the third and sixth rounds, were not interfering with his ability to compete. Neither cut was bleeding much when the fight was called off.
In ordering the rematch, the IBF pointed out that ringside doctors are not supposed to recommend bouts be stopped because blood might affect a boxer's vision -- only if it actually does affect it.
Cunningham, 35, was making the second defense of his second title reign when he faced the 27-year-old Hernandez. The winner of the rematch is obligated to defend against Troy Ross next.
On the undercard of the Hernandez-Cunningham rematch, Enad Licina (21-3, 11 KOs) is scheduled to face former amateur world champion Alexander Alexeev (22-2, 20 KOs) for the vacant European cruiserweight title. Also, European light heavyweight champion Eduard Gutknecht (22-1, 9 KOs) will defend his belt against Vyacheslav Uzelkov (25-1, 16 KOs).
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.