Former long-reigning light heavyweight lineal champion Zsolt Erdei of Hungary moved up to cruiserweight (well, sort of) and won a second division title, unseating Italian Giacobbe Fragomeni to win the WBC strap today in Kiel, Germany.
Erdei (31-0, 17 KO) won on scores of 115-113, 115-113 and 114-114, a majority decision victory, and one he definitely earned. Bad Left Hook scored it 116-112, and I thought my card was for sure on the "wide" end of possible scores. It felt like it could have been a 7-5 or even 6-6 bout, and the judges scored this one well.
Erdei, 35, weighed in at just 178 pounds for the fight, three pounds over the light heavyweight limit and 23 under the cruiserweight limit. Fragomeni (26-2-1, 10 KO) came in at 196 pounds on the scales, giving him a rather massive weight advantage. In many ways, that made it like a shrunken heavyweight fight.
The early portion of the bout was all Erdei, who fought backing up, but nonetheless was fighting. He used potshotting techniques and superior movement to frustrate the slower, shorter Fragomeni. But in the sixth, with Erdei visibly gasping for air between rounds, Fragomeni turned up the heat and got to work. He clearly won the sixth and seventh (you could have argued for him in the fourth, too), and won a few more rounds the rest of the way.
Most surprising was the spirit with which Erdei fought. This wasn't a bruising affair by any means. Neither man is a a big puncher and plenty of shots were missed on both sides, but Erdei fought through obvious fatigue for half the fight, and he did so without running, holding or anything else. In the 12th, he was clearly as gassed as he could be, but he fought it out until the final bell. In that respect, Erdei's performance deserves plenty of admiration. He fought to win this fight, and he won it.
On the undercard:
- Former Mikkel Kessler victim Dimitri Sartison won "the WBA belt" at 168 pounds, stopping Stjepan Bozic after five rounds due to a pretty nasty swollen left eye. Sartison was breathing heavier between rounds than I can remember any fighter ever breathing, but he also was clearly winning the fight and beating Bozic up. Bozic's corner got into a mad huff about the referee deciding to stop it, even while their fighter indicated he could not see out of his lead eye.
- 2008 Olympic gold medalist (heavyweight) Rakhim Chakhiev fought for the second time as a pro, demolishing a tomato can in short order. Chakhiev has real potential (obviously with that pedigree), but is also notable for his absolutely awe-inspiring unibrow.
- Vitali Tajbert won the interim WBC junior lightweight title from Humberto Gutierrez in a boring fight with little action on scores of 116-112, 116-112 and 116-113. Both guys were extremely tentative to start, but Tajbert took over late in the fight in what was a bad clash of styles.