Yoan Pablo Hernandez is still the man to beat in the ring….
The 29-year-old Cuban professional boxer retained his IBF Cruiserweight title by split decision over German challenger Firat Arslan on Saturday.
Judges Vincent Dupas of France and American Shafeeq Rashada scored the bout 115-113 and 116-113, respectively, for the defending champion, while Leszek Jankowiak of Poland scored it 115-113 for Arslan.
“Huge respect to Arslan,” said Hernandez, who is based in Germany, as the crowd showed its disapproval of the decision. “Many thanks for the fight. I can’t say whether there’ll be a rematch.”
Hernandez, making his fourth defense of the title he won by defeating American Steve Cunningham in 2011, landed more punches in the early rounds although Arslan sought the initiative throughout.
Hernandez slipped in the ninth round, while Arslan was bleeding from a blow to his right ear.
Both fighters raised their arms at the final bell but it was Hernandez who improved to 29-1 (14 KOs), while Arslan dropped to 34-8-2 (21 KOs).
“I want to thank the dear lord for everything,” Arslan said after his third successive title defeat. “For the highs and the lows. Thanks too to Pablo Hernandez. He’s a great fighter. He can’t do anything for the result . I’m sorry. I gave everything.”