Cunningham vs Hernandez-Just What The Doctor Ordered

On Saturday night in Neubrandenburg, Germany, Yoan Pablo Hernandez was
awarded the IBF Cruiserweight Title by split technical decision over
2-time champion Steve Cunningham of Philadelphia after Hernandez’s corner
and doctor advised the referee to stop the bout in the corner after the
6th round.

Since the bout, in a release sent out by Sauerland Event, the Hernandez
corner has attempted to take the focus away from the machinations that
caused the stoppage and the score cards – with the judges voting for
Hernandez being universally criticized by the media worldwide – which
awarded Hernandez the belt, and have attempted to create controversy over
the failure of the referee to stop the bout after Cunningham had been
knocked down in Round 1, a move reminiscent of the “controversy” that some
tried to create in the aftermath of Mike Tyson v Buster Douglas, Hernandez
trainer Ulli Wegner is looking to divert attention away from the role
played by the ring doctor Walter Wagner, who advised referee Mickey Vann
that the fight should be stopped even though the cuts suffered by
Hernandez were not bleeding. Cunningham responded to the tactics saying,
“As soon as I read what Wegner was saying, I knew what it was – they want
to take the focus off the way the fight was stopped. I am a true champion
and despite the knock down, I was coming back to win that fight and they
were not going to let that happen.”

In an AP report, Dr. Wagner is quoted as stating that he recommended that
the Cunningham v Hernandez bout be stopped even though “the cuts weren’t
dangerous but the blood could have run into his eyes and affected his
vision. I think the head clashes that the referee felt were accidental
weren’t entirely accidental. You can have different opinions there.
Hernandez was at a disadvantage from the cuts, so I gave the

Let’s get this right – the doctor, who was observed at ringside cheering
on Hernandez and was noted to have been keeping a scorecard together with
a representative of Sauerland Event, advised the referee – who would be
remiss not to take the advice of a physician – to stop the bout because,
in his medical opinion (?), Dr. Wagner felt that Hernandez was at a
“disadvantage”- even though the cuts ‘weren’t dangerous” – and the blood
“could have” run into Hernandez’s eyes and “could have” affected his
vision – even though it was clear that neither cut was bleeding when
Hernandez arose from his stool?

Dr. Wagner proceeded to further question the judgment of the experienced
referee Mickey Vann on the boxing (not medical) call about whether the
clashes of heads were accidental or not? “Everyone knows that the referee
is the one to make those calls, I am not a dirty fighter, never have been.
When an orthodox and a southpaw fight, head butts are likely to happen,
and with that cuts are likely also, but if the cuts were not causing a
problem, the fight should have continued. The only person with a
disadvantage was me, I was fighting against way more that Yoan Pablo
Hernandez on Saturday night.” said Cunningham.

Dr. Wagner is no stranger to controversy – he was the ring doctor who was
in the corner of Ulli Wegner-trained Arthur Abraham when Abraham was
permitted to fight on against Edison Miranda, in spite of having suffered
a broken jaw and with Abraham’s face being a mask of blood throughout the
bout. This obviously was, in the humble and respected opinions of Herr
Wagner and Herr Wegner, far less an injury than was suffered by Hernandez,
as both argued that Abraham could continue but that Hernandez could not.
“It’s really crazy. Abraham was allowed to fight on like a warrior
despite his serious injuries and my fight was stopped due to two cuts that
weren’t bleeding, I guess they liked their chances with Abraham over
Miranda more than they did of Hernandez beating me” said Cunningham.

Cunningham then went on to recount how the night went, “In the first round
I was feeling him out. I thought it was going well and then I got caught
by a good shot and went down. I was down but not out. The knock down
only me made me more determined. After the action started in the second I
was back and went to work. I could feel myself getting stronger, sharper
every round and I could feel him fading. I could taste a late round
stoppage coming. But as you know, we didn’t get the chance to see who the
best man was as they stopped it after the sixth round.”

Most neutral observers had Hernandez winning the first two rounds, with
Cunningham taking control and winning Rounds 3 through 6. With Cunningham
coming on and Hernandez fading, at the conclusion of Round 6, the referee
asked the doctor to have a look at the cuts.

Doctor Wagner informed referee Vann that the fight should be stopped. The
referee, who is in fact the final arbiter, was in a position in which he
cannot, in good conscience, overrule what he takes to be advice provided
by a neutral ring doctor based on what is believed to be medical opinion.
Referee Vann asked “is that what you’re telling me” and then stopped the
fight on the advice of ring physician Wagner. Hernandez walked to the
center of the ring, without a drop of blood coming from either cut, and
shrugged to Cunningham like he didn’t know why the fight was being

Hernandez wasn’t the only person confused by the decision, “I am a world
champion, this is how I provide for my family and I have and always will
fight to the end. Perhaps Wegner was out for some revenge after what I
did to Huck, they wanted my belt and were willing to do whatever to take
it” said Cunningham, before continuing “I have asked my lawyer to look
what my options are, at the end of the day, no one should feel good about
the way this fight ended. Hernandez and I share the same promoter and
they should want to see this rectified. I have always been so proud to be
the IBF Champion, they are an organization that stands behind their rules
and does not get pulled into the shady politics and I respect them so much
for that. I know they want their champions to earn the title, a rematch
is truly in order.”

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