Zsolt Erdei will be part of a four-man tournament at light heavyweight. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
The WBC is putting together a four-man tournament at light heavyweight to determine a new No. 1 contender to their titlist, legit champion Bernard Hopkins. The 46-year-old Hopkins won the belt on May 21, when he defeated Jean Pascal in Montreal to become the oldest recognized "champion" (and Hopkins, again, is a real one) in boxing history.
Pascal will be involved in the elimination process here, and his rumored fight with Zsolt Erdei is going to be part of the tournament. Pascal (26-2-1, 16 KO) is the most well-regarded of the fighters involved, and in the United States and Canada, the most well-known. But Erdei (33-0, 18 KO) is no pushover, despite years of criticism about his level of competition -- which was admittedly terrible for the most part -- when he reigned as WBO titleholder fighting in Germany. The Hungarian veteran, now 37 years old, is promoted these days by Lou DiBella, and has been fighting in the United States for his last two bouts.
Pascal has a tentative date on December 17, and both parties are very interested in a fight. The fight will not be picked up by HBO, as the network almost never airs fights that late in the year, due to having spent their budget by then. Showtime could possibly swoop in, and there was talk that Epix would look into picking up the fight, too.
The other semi-final fight will see Chris Henry take on prospect Ismayl Sillakh. Henry (25-2, 20 KO) has been inactive since March 2010, after a couple of wins over Shaun George and Hugo Garay, which followed a close loss to Yusaf Mack in February 2009. He's a good fighter, but somewhat inconsistent and the inactivity will certainly not do him any favors. Sillakh (16-0, 13 KO) is a very promising young fighter who had an impressive win over Cuban Yordanis Despaigne earlier this year on Friday Night Fights, and went over to Russia with the Roy Jones Jr caravan on May 21. At 26, the Ukrainian-born, California-based Sillakh is probably as ready as he's going to get to take a step up, and Henry is a very good next step.
The participants may not be perfect, but I always like these little four-man tournaments, and I think Sillakh could be the guy to win this thing. He's got, in my mind, better skills than the rest, it's just about how ready he is to face guys who have been around the block.