Cruiserweight titlist Yoan Pablo Hernandez returns to action after a nine-month layoff to defend his title for the fourth time when he faces former titleholder Firat Arslan on Saturday in Erfurt, Germany.
Hernandez (28-1, 14 KOs), the slick 29-year-old southpaw from Cuba who defected to Germany, was supposed to defend against Pawel Kolodziej on March 8 before the fight was postponed until March 29 and then canceled altogether because Hernandez was suffering from gastritis (a stomach lining infection) and unable to train.
Hernandez also has had other physical problems, including needing surgery to repair a broken hand that caused him to be out of action for 14 months, including most of 2013, when he fought just once.
Now Hernandez is back and said he feels good and is happy to have the issues behind him.
"I have trained careful with my focus being completely on the task ahead this Saturday night. I did not have this kind of focus for my last fights, as I had to battle many problems outside of the ring," Hernandez said at this week's final news conference. "I almost give up but my wife and my coach motivated me not to let myself go. Now, I am stronger than ever. [Saturday] will be my proving point."
Germany's Arslan (34-7-2, 21 KOs) is looking to regain a piece of the title at age 43. He gave titleholder Marco Huck a very tough fight in a highly competitive and action-packed November 2012 points loss but then was knocked out in the sixth round by Huck in their January rematch.
After rebounding with an eight-round decision win against a low-level opponent in June, Arslan landed the shot against Hernandez -- an easy fight to make because they are both promoted by Sauerland Event.
"I want to become the oldest cruiserweight champion of all time. I know that this is my last chance to glory and I did everything in preparation to make my dream come true," Arslan said. "Coach Fritz Sdunek is going to be my key factor against Hernandez. When I fought Huck for the second time, I made many mistakes, which are not going to happen again. You will see my best performance ever on Saturday."