The Africa Rising Foundation, led by Nelson Mandela's grandsons Ndaba and Kweku, and African promotional company Golden Gloves have put together a four-man elimination tournament to begin on March 30 in Monaco, as part of the Golovkin-Ishida card. The two semifinal bouts will take place on that date, with the final on July 13, also in Monaco, and the finalists splitting a 60/40 million dollar purse.
The semifinal matchups will pit Zsolt Erdei (33-0, 18 KO) against Denis Grachev (12-1-1, 8 KO), and Edwin Rodriguez (22-0, 15 KO) against Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna (19-0, 13 KO). It would appear that the tournament will be fought at the 175-pound limit.
I doubt it would surprise anyone if this doesn't wind up happening, but for now, this is the news. Erdei, 38, hasn't fought since June 2011, so his participation more than anything leans toward doubtful, but if the field stays as is, it's pretty interesting. He and Rodriguez are both DiBella fighters, and surely Lou will hope for his guys to win and then meet up. Of course, if they do both win, it's not totally impossible that something would come up and cancel a fight between the two of them.
If it goes ahead as planned, it could be a lot of fun, and makes the Golovkin-Ishida card one worth tuning in to see.
Comments from the fighters, via press release:
"It is a dream come true for me to participate in this tournament. I have worked my entire life for this opportunity and don't plan on wasting it. While I am happy and honored to be in the tournament, I won't be satisfied until I win it. Having not had the opportunity to participate in the 2008 Olympics, it's an added bonus to be placed against an undefeated former Olympian in Maderna for my first fight. I want to thank to my manager Larry Army and my promoter Lou DiBella for putting me in this position and also a special thanks to Rodney Berman and Golden Gloves for giving me this opportunity."
Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna
"I'm thrilled to have the opportunity of proving myself at the international level against the best. This is my chance to show that I belong amongst the elite fighters in the world, and I promise that I will deliver."
"I feel healthy, energized and focused. I have the opportunity with this tournament to prove that I am still the one of the best in the world. Winning the tournament puts me right in line for a shot at reclaiming my world championship, and there is no way I will let that opportunity pass me by."
"I believe that I am fighting the best out of the four of us, but once I beat Erdei, I will then be the top guy left in the tournament. I can't rely on the judges in these bouts. That is why I am going to take matters into my own hands and I am going into this tournament with the full intention of knocking both of my opponents out. This is a huge opportunity for me and a way for me to reach my ultimate goal as being recognized as one of the best fighters in the entire world."