Yoan Pablo Hernandez returned to the ring after a 14-month injury break and knocked out Alexander Alekseev in the 10th round to retain his IBF cruiserweight title yesterday.
Hernandez knocked down the Russian challenger in the second and fifth rounds, but was in trouble in the later rounds as he appeared to be running out of energy.
Alekseev staggered Hernandez in the seventh with two big lefts and appeared to be fresher — until Hernandez caught him with a short right hook with 1 minute, 35 seconds left in the 10th and the Russian went down heavily.
“I wanted to remain calm, not be so hasty,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez, a Cuban who fights from Germany, improved to 28-1 with 14 knockouts. Alekseev, also based in Germany, fell to 24-3 with one draw.
Hernandez sat out 14 months after breaking his left hand twice.
“The hand held well,” he said.
Hernandez was quick to take control of the fight, landing blows to the body in the opening round. He floored Alekseev for the first time with a left hook late in the second.
Hernandez had a cut bleeding above his right eye in the fourth and Alekseev scored with some jabs, before Hernandez finished the round strongly with two good lefts.
Alekseev was knocked down again at the end of fifth round by a right-left combination and was saved by the bell.
The Russian began to recover in the later rounds and Hernandez was gasping for breath until he delivered the big punch that knocked out the Russian.
“I tried, but I took a lot of blows, especially from his left. I should have used my jab more and then I went down,” Alekseev said.