EARS LOOKING AT YOU, KID – 43 year old physical marvel Firat Arslan was agonizingly astonished, though unvanquished yet again, as he dropped a punishing split decision to defending IBF cruiserweight titlist Yoan Pablo Hernandez.
The crowd whistled derisively at the verdict, as Arslan put his hands to his head in disbelief that he had been denied what appeared to many observers as an obvious win for the popular underdog.
Hernandez deserved the nod, but he was hanging in deep trouble near the finish, while Arslan went into an uncharacteristic survival mode down the stretch and squandered an opportunity he earned though accepting a high price for coming in.
Scoring was justified on all three cards, depending on what form of boxing you prefer. Shafeeq Rashida and Vincent Dupas favored Hernandez 116-113 and 115-113 respectively, Leszek saw it 115-113 for Arslan, as, from the sound of things so did most people in the Erfurt hall.
It was a busy and brutal brawl, and wouldn’t have been any different in the new BKB ring that would debut later that time zone. Arslan came forward almost every minute of every round, but often without throwing anything.
Hernandez led from each side of his southpaw stance and created openings with short, light combinations. Hernandez was much busier through a lot of the bout, and landed many more punches, including some great body shots.
Arslan absorbed wicked whaps, like an anvil takes the hammer.
Arslan also sustained such pummeled ears, as Hernandez tried to reach around his peek a boo advance, it looked like the challenger was wearing grotesquely bloodied Mickey Mouse headgear. Talk about ringing ears, ouch.
For Hernandez, now 29 – 1 (14), the victory answered some of the questions about his recent hand and health problems, but his overall condition remains a concern, as he seemed drained to the point of near collapse by the 10th round. That Arslan let him off the hook is probably a testament to Hernandez’s power.
For Arslan, 34-8-2 (21) it was a perplexing case of déjà vu, in replication of a draw with Marco Huck most observers in Germany felt Arslan won, despite Huck’s popularity.
Huck mooted the punching bag point when he TKO’d Arslan in their rematch with such relative ease it appeared Arslan’s age and leather eating style had finally caught up to him.
That was certainly not the case tonight, though there must be concerns that day will come. For now, Arslan has recently fought on even terms with the very best in the division once again. His stock only rose with this performance and amended the TKO by Huck.
For Hernandez, a much easier, stay busy fight this winter should be in order. He did not look anywhere near 100 per cent, but Arslan had plenty to do with that.
For Arslan, it wasn’t a win, obviously, but as long as those poor, painful looking ears recover, it wasn’t really that much of a loss.