The 26-year-old Hernandez (24-1, 13 KOs) has won 10 straight bouts, including knockouts in his last two fights.
“I have followed his career for a long time. Hernandez is one of the top cruiserweights and a very strong opponent,” said the 35-year-old Cunningham, of Philadelphia.
“But I have defeated all reigning cruiserweight champions, and I will clinch another victory on Saturday night. The weapons are oiled and I am ready to go to war.”
Considered the world’s No. 1 cruiserweight, Cunningham is trained by Naazim Richardson, the same man who works with former undisputed middleweight champ and RING and WBC light heavyweight titleholder Bernard Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs).
In February, Cunningham (24-2, 12 KOs) earned his third straight win with a unanimous decision over Serbian-born Enad Licina (20-4, 11 KOs).
Before facing Licina, Cunningham rose from a fourth-round knockdown to regain the vacant IBF cruiserweight crown with a fifth-round technical knockout of Troy Ross (24-2, 16 KOs) in June of last year. Ross had won his previous 11 fights, eight of them by knockout.
Cunningham has not lost since December of 2008, when he was dethroned as IBF cruiserweight king by Tomasz Adamek (44-2, 28 KOs) by a split decision.
Before falling to Adamek, Cunningham had won two straight: a majority decision over Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (45-2-1, 32 KOs) of Poland in May of 2007, and a 12th-round knockout of Marco Huck (33-1, 24 KOs), who are the current WBC and WBO champions, respectively.
By defeating Wlodarczyk, Cunningham dethroned him as IBF beltholder and avenged a split-decision loss from November of 2006.
Cunningham also already owns a split-decision victory over current WBA titlist Guillermo Jones (37-3-2, 29 KOs) from April of 2005.
“Cunningham is good, I know what he did to my training partner and stablemate Marco Huck,” said Hernandez. “Saturday will be time for revenge. I have a lot of respect for him, but I am ready to become world champion.”
Hernandez won a clash of southpaws in February, when he dropped Steve Herelius (21-2-1, 12 KOs) twice in the seventh and final round, thus ending a seven-fight winning streak.
Hernandez last suffered defeat when he was knocked out in the third round by Wayne Braithwaite in March of 2008.
“I am looking forward to Saturday,” said Hernandez, who is trained by Ulli Wegner. “It will be a tough and a very interesting fight. I really fancy my chances.”
MANNY PACQUIAO-JUAN MANUEL MARQUEZ FACE OFF
WBO welterweight titleholder Manny Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 KOs) and WBO and WBA lightweight beltholder Juan Manuel Marquez (53-5-1, 39 KOs) will participate in HBO’s “Face Off with Max Kellerman: Pacquiao-Marquez” on Saturday night following HBO’s Boxing After Dark Series, which features a main-event clash between middleweights Sergio Martinez and Darren Barker.
Pacquiao has battled Marquez twice already, to a draw and a split-decision victory in 2004 and 2008, respectively. The broadcast will begin at 12:15 a.m. Eastern Time, immediately following Martinez-Barker.
AMIR KHAN-LAMONT PETERSON PRESS TOUR BEGINS
Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer has announced a Tuesday press conference in London to officially kick off “Capitol Showdown: Khan vs. Peterson.”
The tour touts an HBO-televised bout featuring WBA and IBF junior welterweight beltholder Amir Khan of England in the first defense of his IBF belt against mandatory challenger Lamont Peterson of Washington, D.C., which is slated for Dec. 10 in Peterson’s home town.
The 24-year-old Khan (26-1, 18 KOs) has won eight consecutive fights, four of them by knockout.
The 27-year-old Peterson (29-1-1, 15 KOs) won an IBF eliminator with a 12th-round stoppage of Victor Cayo (26-2, 18 KOs) in July, earning the organization’s No. 1 contender status and the right to challenge Khan.
The show will also present 29-year-old heavyweight prospect Seth Mitchell (23-0-1, 17 KOs), of Brandywine, Md., according to Schaefer. Mitchell has scored nine consecutive knockouts and 22 straight victories.
MELSON’S MONEY AIDS STEM CELL RESEARCH
Captain Boyd “Rainmaker” Melson (5-0, 3 KOs) will have a lot more on the line than his unbeaten record when he meets Russ Niggemyer (2-3, 2 KOs) in a junior welterweight clash on Saturday night at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
A resident of White Plains, N.Y. and active army reserve who graduated from West Point, Melson will donate his purse to justadollarplease.org, an organization which raises money for America’s first clinical trial of stem cell research for spinal cord injuries.
Melson has done so throughout his professional career, inspired by a paralyzed, wheelchair-bound woman he met in the past.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org