If, in 2006, you had asked a hardcore amateur boxing fan which fighter they would tip to become a future Cruiserweight world champion the name Alexander Alexeev (24-2-1, 20) would have been that man. No arguments about it, Alexeev was seen as the future of the Cruiserweight division.
Prior to turning professional in 2006 Alexeev had been a genuinely outstanding amateur. He had been a multi-time Russian champion, a World champion (2005), a European champion (2002) and, had it not been for Odlanier Solis, it's very likely he'd have won gold at the World Championships (2003) and Olympics (2004).
Born in Uzbekistan though fighting out of Russia, Alexeev appeared to have it all. He was a 6'2" southpaw with obvious skills, solid power, amazing fundamentals and the reach to establish a long range game against almost anyone in his division.
Unfortunately as a professional Alexeev has failed to ever come close to living up to the high expectations that were expected of him. In all honesty, and despite having a solid record, Alexeev's professional career has been nothing short of a disappointment.
This weekend sees Alexeev finally getting a chance to fulfill his promise as he fights for the IBF Cruiserweight title against talented German-based Cuban Yoan Pablo Hernandez (27-1, 13). Although Alexeev is rightfully considered the under-dog it's a bout that he needs to win just to keep his career alive.
Going in to this bout the 32 year old Alexeev will be entering with just one bout in the last year. That bout, a decision victory over Garrett Wilson, was a title eliminator which has seen Alexeev getting this bout. Whilst his inactivity is certainly an issue coming in it's not as bad as the 29 year old Hernandez who has been out of the ring for 14 months following a controversial victory over Canadian Troy Ross.
Interestingly whilst Alexeev has been disappointing it's also fair to say that Hernandez has disappointed. The Cuban was, like Alexeev, tipped to be a super-star and whilst he's become a world champion he's struggled to show why so many regarded him so highly. In fact it's fair to say that a number of Hernandez's most notable victories have come with a shroud of controversy of them, including victories over Michael Simms, Troy Ross and most notably his first bout with Steve Cunningham.
What Hernandez has is a good all-round package. He's very tall, 6'4", for a Cruiserweight, has solid speed, impressive skills and although his record doesn't show it he does hit hard. Sadly he lets those traits go to waste to often with languid rounds, a less than solid chin and some real issues that seem to be mental. If Hernandez is at his best he's excellent, on a bad night though he seems to struggle to get anything going.
With more than a year out of the ring we may well see one of those poor nights from Hernandez and if he has one of those there is every chance Alexeev could score an upset.
At his best Alexeev has the ability to box with the best of them in the division. Sadly he can be out fought and banged out. If he's too respectful of Hernandez's power he'll be stopped as he was against Denis Lebedev, if he's too reckless he'll be stopped. If however Alexeev boxes to a clever and patient game-plan he could defeat the Cuban.
Unfortunately we can't see Alexeev finally getting his act together and instead we think he's going to walk on to a big booming Hernandez shot then unravel before being stopped. We hope we're wrong, but unfortunately it's hard to trust Alexeev at this point in time.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.