Cruiserweight titleholder Yoan Pablo Hernandez, sidelined for close to a year because of a right elbow injury, is ready for his ring return.
Hernandez will travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to face mandatory challenger Victor Emilio Ramirez -- who claimed the vacant interim title during Hernandez's injury absence -- on July 25, Hernandez promoter Sauerland Event announced on Wednesday.
Hernandez (29-1, 14 KOs), 30, will be making his fifth title defense. A former Cuban amateur star, Hernandez defected to Germany, where he has fought his entire career. He will be fighting outside of Germany for the first time.
Hernandez has been idle since a winning a split decision against former titleholder Firat Arslan on Aug. 26. Hernandez was scheduled to fight mandatory challenger Ola Afolabi on Dec. 6, but Hernandez was having problems with his elbow during training and the fight was called off. Hernandez, who had similar issues with his elbow during the fight with Arslan, was diagnosed with loose cartilage in his elbow and had surgery.
Because Hernandez was going to be sidelined for an extended period, the IBF sanctioned an interim title bout between Afolabi and Ramirez, who held a world title for eight months in 2009. They met on April 10 in Buenos Aires and Ramirez (22-2, 17 KOs), 31, won a unanimous decision. Hernandez, a southpaw, is required to face Ramirez, per IBF rules, in his first fight coming back from the injury.
"Finally, I am injury free and ready to get back to what I do best," Hernandez said. "I can't wait to travel to Argentina and prove once again why I'm the best in the division."
Said trainer Ulli Wegner, "Pablo is entering the lion's den. Against such a passionate audience, we must keep a cool head. Ramirez is an aggressive fighter but Pablo has the superior skills. He will need to work hard but I'm convinced he will emerge victorious."
Hernandez is headed to Argentina because that is where the promoters felt they could generate the most money.
"We believe in his strengths and expect him to prevail," promoter Kalle Sauerland said of Hernandez. "This is an opportunity for Pablo to prove himself as a true champion by travelling to Argentina to defeat Ramirez on his home turf."