Zsolt Erdei Returns to the Ring

By Clarence George on February 25, 2013
Zsolt Erdei Returns to the Ring
Erdei vs. Grachev? Russians don't beat Hungarians...not unless they have many tanks.


It’s not fair. Our Filipino brethren can boast any number of stars in the boxing constellation, from Pancho Villa to Manny Pacquiao. The same is true of our Mexican brothers-in-arms. Baby Arizmendi? Check. Juan Manuel Marquez? Check. For those of us of Hungarian descent, however, it’s pretty much Laszlo Papp. Granted, Papp is a damned good name on which to hang one’s fedora. He’s the finest amateur boxer of all time, of whom the great Teofilo Stevenson was in awe. A southpaw with a left hook as gulyás-spicy as fellow countryman and violinist Roby Lakatos’ rendition of Johannes Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5. And don’t think his pro record wasn’t a little slice of heaven…because it was. He should have been given the chance to face Joey Giardello for the Middleweight Championship of the World, which I have no doubt he would have won. Still, Papp last ennobled the ring with his mustachioed presence almost 50 years ago. Is there another, more recent, Hungarian fighter? Ah…

Undefeated Zsolt Erdei (33-0-0, 18 KOs) is the only Hungarian to win world titles in two divisions. The 38-year-old light heavy, who turned pro 13 years ago, won the WBO light heavyweight championship in 2004 by defeating Julio Cesar Gonzalez via unanimous decision. “Madár” (or “Firebird”) successfully defended his title 11 times over the course of five years. And he won the WBC cruiserweight championship in 2009 by beating Giacobbe Fragomeni via majority decision. Erdei last fought in June 2011—20 months ago—defeating Byron Mitchell by sixth-round TKO. He was to fight Isaac Chilemba last September, but had to cancel due to broken ribs sustained during training. The Hungarian is scheduled to return to the ring on March 30, in Monaco, as part of the Monte Carlo Million Dollar Super Four, which will also feature Gennady Golovkin vs. Nobuhiro Ishida, Edwin Rodriguez vs. Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna, and Sergey Rabchenko vs. Adriano Nicchi. Erdei will be facing Denis Grachev.

Thirty-year-old Grachev (12-1-1, 8 KOs) is a former Muay Thai and kickboxing champion, who became a boxer six years ago. The Russian fought twice in 2012, defeating Ismayl Sillakh in April via eighth-round TKO and losing to Lucian Bute in November by unanimous decision, his only loss thus far. He’d won the NABF light heavyweight title from Sillakh, only to lose it to Bute. “The Pirate” drew once, against Ernesto Castaneda in 2009.

Rusty as Erdei must be, I can’t believe that the inexperienced and unimpressive Grachev will pose much of a threat. Besides, Russians don’t beat Hungarians…not unless they have many, many tanks. The question is who will Erdei face following this tune-up—Tony Bellew, Gabriel Campillo, Juergen Braehmer? Or will this easy win be the Hungarian’s swan song? Perhaps. After all, Erdei will turn 39 in May. And while Hungarians are incapable of fading away, they’re certainly entitled to retire.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Zsolt Erdei vs Julio Cesar Gonzalez



Erdei vs. Fragomeni WBC Cruiserweight Highlights Engl.



Boxing 2011-06-04 - Zsolt Erdei vs. Byron Mitchell



БОКС Силлах \ Грачёв Box Ismayl Sillakh vs Denis Grachev.(2012.04.27).2012 MMM 2011



(Pt.2) Gypsy violinist Roby Lakatos - 'Hungarian Dance No.5' (Music Show, ABC Radio National)



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  1. pugknows 09:54am, 02/27/2013

    Welterweight Jozef Kubovsky, deserves mention at 13-104-14. Anton Glofak is awful as well at 2-80. Slovakians are hapless.

  2. Clarence George 02:35am, 02/27/2013

    Sorin’s a good sport, and a true journeyman.  And Razak has indeed been busy.

    By the way, I want full credit for being the first guy here to mention Balogh in an article, in “Stevenson-Boone Redux” (February 5, 2013).

  3. the thresher 07:17pm, 02/26/2013

    I maintain up-to-date files of all the guys with horrific records and I don’t want to give away what’s in Parts Two and Three of my current series, but I can say that if you want a mind-boggler, check out Sid Razak for activity.

  4. Dimtry Saresky 07:11pm, 02/26/2013

    Romanian Marius Petre Sorin just called me via long distance and said to post his record of 0-40-2.  One of the draws was his first fight.

  5. the thresher 07:03pm, 02/26/2013

    “So you think Grachev will beat Erdei?” Oh no, I just think he will give Zsolt a lot of hell. He is one tough guy.

  6. Clarence George 06:08pm, 02/26/2013

    His most recent fight was earlier this month.

  7. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo (aka) Gimpel 03:32pm, 02/26/2013

    Clarence George-Gabor is still fighting? The hell you say…well there you go….what a man!

  8. Clarence George 01:50pm, 02/26/2013

    Dmitry Thresher:  My guess is that Balogh doesn’t pretend to be anything but what he is—a true journeyman fighter.  He’s always available, and isn’t at all likely to win.  I think he was Golovkin’s first opponent.  I’ve been working on a short story about just such a guy.  As for the 0-50 Argentine…no idea.

    So you think Grachev will beat Erdei?

  9. The Thresher 10:58am, 02/26/2013

    BTW, this Russian specializes in ruining undefeated records.

  10. Dmitry (AKA) ------- 10:29am, 02/26/2013

    Look, if Gabor gets x amount of money for each fight and he has had 104 or some such number, times that amount by the number of fights and maybe he gets the last laugh. Now there is a guy in Argentina with a 0-50 record but I cannot find him no matter how hard I try.

  11. Clarence George 08:10am, 02/26/2013

    Irish, I appreciate your expertise on Balogh, and I must say that I share your affection and admiration for him.

  12. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo (aka) Gimpel 07:19am, 02/26/2013

    Clarence George-Which reminds me…his life was all about “snatching” defeat from the jaws of victory….time and time and time again….what more could you ask of a man?

  13. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo (aka) Gimpel 07:07am, 02/26/2013

    Clarence George-Say what you will…it was an honest living that enabled Gabor to support his zaftig Hungarian beauty in fine fashion not to mention the ten rambunctious kidkins resulting from their crazed love making after each defeat….yes, it had that effect on him!

  14. Clarence George 06:33am, 02/26/2013

    I agree, Dmitry, that it’s always a mistake to underestimate an opponent.  That said, I don’t rate Grachev too highly, though your point about his giving Bute a hard time is well taken.  I’d be less confident of Erdei winning if he were a couple of years older.

  15. Dmitry 05:56am, 02/26/2013

    Grachev gave Bute all he can handle. He is a tough nut who should not be taken lightly.

  16. Clarence George 04:12am, 02/26/2013

    Yes, you.

    I’ve done my research.  Your real name is Dmitry Saresky, formerly a major with the NKVD, who joined SPECTRE in ‘69.  You’ve been quite clever in covering your tracks, my friend…but not quite clever enough.

  17. the thresher 09:04pm, 02/25/2013

    Who, me?

  18. Clarence George 08:40pm, 02/25/2013

    Ha!  I knew you’d come up with Balogh. 

    Sares…hmmm.  One of dem Russkies, eh?  Thought so.

  19. the thresher 08:32pm, 02/25/2013

    Well, there is always Gabor “Rocco” Balough. This Hungarian has a record of 2-97-5 and may well go down as the worse in history unless it’s the winless Attila Nemeth whom Gabor beat in 2009 when he was 1-54-5 coming in.

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