Later tonight, IBF cruiserweight champion Yoan Pablo Hernandez (28-1, 14 KOs) will be defending his title against 43-year-old fringe contender Firat Arslan (34-7-2, 21 KOs) at the Messehalle, Erfurt, Thüringen, Germany.
You can’t really say that Arslan deserves a world title shot right now unless you think it’s okay for a fighter with 2 defeats in his last 4 fights to be fighting for a world title. Arslan has twice been given title shots against WBO cruiserweight champion Marco Huck in the past year and twice he’s lost.
Now, Arslan is getting yet another shot at a title, and that’s kind of disturbing because it means that other fighters that arguably more deserving are being leap-frogged over by a fighter that has lost 2 out of his last 4 fights.
#13 IBF Arslan defeated Tamas Bajzath (9-10), which seems to be the fight that got him the Hernandez title. It’s an optional title defense but it’s kind of odd that the IBF sanctioned it given the 2 recent defeats by Arslan.
Arslan is clearly getting the title shot against Hernandez not because of what he’s done lately with his career, but rather because he’s a recognizable name for the German boxing fans. They see him as a guy they know from his many years in the sport. So it’s kind of like how Evander Holyfield kept getting title shots for a while even after he was no longer successful with his career. He was a name that casual fans in the U.S could recognize, so that got him the title shot.
Hernandez, 29, is kind of a paper champion in the eyes of some boxing fans. Hernandez is a decent fighter, but he’s clearly not in the same league as WBO cruiserweight champion Marco Huck, Denis Lebedev, Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, Rakim Chakhkiev, Ola Afolabi, or Thabiso Mchunu. Those guys would all likely knock Hernandez out if they could somehow get a shot against him. That’s not easy to get a fight against Hernandez with him fighting the likes of Arslan, Troy Ross and Alexander Alekseev.
Arslan has a chance of beating Hernandez tonight simply because Hernandez just isn’t that good. He’s got poor stamina and he’s easily hurt when hit hard. Hernandez hasn’t faced anyone that you can call good for a long time. It’s interesting that he never fought Afolabi during his career. But the cruiserweight division has improved dramatically recently, and Hernandez is on borrowed time as the IBF champ. He’ll stay in that job as long as he’s picking safe fights like Arslan, but once he takes on one of the aforementioned fighters, Hernandez will surely lose his strap.