Hernandez Scores Controversial Win/Proksa dominates Sylvester
BY: Clive Bernath
By Mikko Salo: The three main bouts featuring a total of four Ring-rated fighters in Saturday`s quality fight card in Neubrandenburg, Germany didn`t lack drama or controversy. First the Jahnsportforum public witnessed a draw suspect to many observers, then a title belt changed hands via a highly contoversial technical decision with rematch-talk commencing immediatel. For the grande finale, the crowd had to watch their home-ring hero get almost literally cut to pieces by a young up-and-comer from neighbouring Poland.
The biggest outcry of the evening resulted from the way The Ring #1 cruiserweight contender Steve ”USS” Cunningham (24-3, 12KO) lost his IBF title to unrated Yoan Pablo Hernandez (25-1, 13KO). Hernandez had his moment in the first round, knocking Cunningham down with an overhand left. The American was badly hurt, but received a long count from referee Mickey Vann and barely survived the round.
From the second round on Cunningham took the initiative and began to assert himself as the more commanding fighter in the ring. In the third round an accidental clash of heads caused a fairly bad cut on the left side of Hernandez`s forehead. At the same time Cunningham seemed to outwork the German-based Cuban collecting points with a steady output of punches.
The fourth round saw Cunningham still be the more active fighter, but Hernandez scoring some fairly big shots. In the fifth and sixth the action was once again dictated by Cunningham and in the fifth the American was also able to connect on a couple of decent body shots.
There was another accidental clash of heads in the sixth, cutting Hernandez above the right eye. The cuts didn`t seem all that bad, but the referee decided to stop the bout between the sixth and seventh rounds on the advice of Hernandez`s corner.
After the stoppage the scorecards read 59-54 and 58-55 in favour of Hernandez and 57-56 in favour of Cunningham, so the IBF cruiserweight belt changed hands on a curious split technical decision. This writer had the bout scored 57-56 to Cunningham and in any case it is very hard to imagine how someone had it 59-54 for Hernandez even with the first round knockdown. No wonder the word ”rematch” started to surface immediately in the postfight interviews and other coverage.
The other controversial decision came earlier in the evening after a hard-fought rematch-encounter between The Ring #8 and #9 light heavyweight contenders Karo Murat (24-1-1, 14KO) of Germany and former WBA light heavy titlist Gabriel Campillo (21-3-1, 8KO) of Spain. After Murat`s early activity Campillo took control of the fight and although the German was able to mount a late surge, the Spaniard seemed to have done enough to earn a decision. The result was a split draw with the scores being 117-111 for Campillo, 115-113 for Murat and 114-114 even.
The final fight of the evening had a dramatic ending of its own although the outcome wasn`t much in doubt at the time of the stoppage. The home crowd favourite, The Ring #4 middleweight contender and former IBF titlist Sebastian Sylvester (34-5-1, 16KO) was on the receiving end of a possible career-ending three-round beating administered by up-and-coming unrated Pole Grzegorz Proksa (26-0, 19KO).
From the opening bell the Polish southpaw showed superior speed and skill against the stiff 31-year-old German. Proksa scored big shots from various angles and Sylvester was almost completely unable to reach the slick-moving Pole. In the second round a hard left from Proksa opened a nasty cut over Sylvester`s right eye and the German`s face was covered with blood after just two rounds of one-sided action.
In the third round Sylvester connected with a good right hand but after that Proksa turned on another gear and pummeled his foe mercilessly towards the end of the round. During the break the referee decided to stop the fight due to the severity of Sylvester`s cut, which was already greatly impairing his vision.
This fight might have ended Sebastian Sylvester`s boxing career at the top ranks of the middleweight division. The 26-year-old Grzegorz Proksa on the other hand showed remarkable superiority in his toughest test yet. With this victory the new EBU middleweight titlist will certainly crack The Ring Top 10 and move closer to a major title bout in the near future.