With his IBF cruiser crown at stake, Cuban expatriate Yoan Pablo Hernandez likely thought the end was near for his one defense title reign as he was downed then pummeled by Canada's Troy Ross in the fifth round of their contest tonight at Stechert Arena in Bamberg, Germany.
But Hernandez was given the opportunity to continue by referee David Fields and the 27 year old resident of Halle and der Salle managed to get through a very bad situation to finish the frame.
The champion had started the fight between two southpaws on a high note, using his height advantage to good effect and sweeping the first round. But Ross, standing just 5'11 to Hernandez's 6'4, was the quicker fighter and shaded many of the exchanges, which featured both combatants landing crunching shots from each hand.
Hernandez was nailed in the fifth with a full-bore left from the 37 year old Ross and was soon on the floor from the challenger's follow-up assault. The champion made it through the trouble, with what appeared to be friendly interruptions by the referee of Ross' attempts to finish the job.
Ross spent the next few frames looking to duplicate his success and loaded up with big punches that Hernandez was generally able to avoid.
A full-scale war erupted in the ninth as Ross caught up with Hernandez and soon both fighters were on shaky legs. Hernandez seemed to get the better results but was spent over the next three rounds.
Ross finished strong but was unable to win over the judges, who gave Hernandez a 114-113, 116-112 and 115-112 unanimous decision.
Hernandez retains his IBF belt and moves to 27-1 (13) while Ross, failing to get a win in his second world title chance, goes to 25-3 (16).
On the undercard, middleweights Dominik Britsch, 26-1-1 (9), and Robert Santos, 18-6-2 (10), waged a rematch to their February draw with Santos capturing the vacant European Union strap with an eighth round stoppage.