Photo by Winfried Mausolf
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.
Yoan Pablo, you can finally accomplish your big goal of winning a world title. How did you find out about the fight?
“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.”
How did you react?
“I was very happy. Becoming world champion is as good as it gets. And I am ready to win the title.”
You will be fighting Steve Herelius. How do you rate him?
“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.”
Where have you prepared for the fight?
“We have trained in Berlin all the time. We have everything we need at the Max-Schmeling-Gym. The facilities are great.”
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?
“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.”
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?
“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.”