ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — RING No. 3-rated cruiserweight Steve Cunningham, of Philadelphia, told RingTV.com that on Saturday that he will face RING No. 2-ranked Yoan Pablo Hernandez, of Cuba, on Feb. 4 in Frankfurt, Germany.
The return bout is an IBF-ordered rematch of their Oct. 1 fight that ended with Hernandez dethroning Cunningham by controversial sixth-round technical decision in Neubrandenburg, Germany.
“The venue is set in Frankfurt Germany on Feb. 4, 2012,” said Cunningham, who, like Hernandez, is promoted by Sauerland Event. “I just want to start the year off with an explosive nuclear bang and snatch this belt back.”
Cunningham spoke to RingTV.com at Casears Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., just a few hours before RING No. 9-ranked pound-for-pound fighter Andre Ward (25-0, 13 KOs), of Oakland, Calif., scored a unanimous decision victory over Carl Froch (28-2, 20 KOs), of England, at Boardwalk Hall.
Hernandez-Cunningham went to the scorecards as a result of a cut over the right eye of Hernandez (25-1, 13 KOs) that had resulted from two, accidental, early-round head clashes with Cunningham (24-3, 12 KOs).
Judges Pawel Kardyni and Dave Parris scored it for the 27-year-old Hernandez 59-54 and 58-55, respectively, while Howard John Foster had it 57-56 for the 35-year-old Cunningham (24-3, 12 KOs).
It was decided that the cut over Hernandez’s right eye was appearing to widen as the fight progressed. In the sixth round, Hernandez’s trainer, Ulli Wegner, asked for an examination by referee Mickey Vann, who then stopped the bout on the advice of ringside doctor Walter Wagner.
“They cheated us, and it was unbelievable. And I’m not saying that it was Sauerland, but Ulli Wegner. He’s got a very good relationship with the doctor. I put this on them two. It was shady. The doctor’s got a shady history in boxing. The Klitschkos don’t even use him,” said Cunningham.
“It’s unbelievable. He stopped the fght on a cut that wasn’t even bleeding because he said that it could have bled into they eye. Well, I could have gotten punched in the balls, or The Fan Man could have fell into the ring like he did at the Riddick Bow-Evander Holyfield fight. But even then, did they stop that fight?”
Although he barely beat the 10-count to continue after being down in the first round against Hernandez, Cunningham immediately called for a rematch, saying he was “set up” and that he was still the best cruiserweight in the world.
Championships Chairman Lindsay Tucker informed RingTV.com on Oct. 15 that the IBF had ordered an immediate rematch between Hernandez and Cunningham. Tucker said that he and IBF President Darryl Peoples reviewed the video of the head collisions and determined that there “was an improper stoppage of the title fight.”