Erdei stops Mitchell, eyes Hopkins
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Former light heavyweight titleholder Zsolt Erdei of Hungary gave his cheering throng of some 700 Hungarian fans, who waved flags and chanted throughout his fight, exactly what they wanted: a knockout win against faded former super middleweight titlist Byron Mitchell on Saturday night.
Erdei used his quick hands and accurate punches to methodically take apart Mitchell before stopping him in the sixth round on the undercard of the Carl Froch-Glen Johnson Super Six World Boxing Classic semifinal at the Adrian Phillips Ballroom at Boardwalk Hall.
Mitchell (28-8-1, 21 KOs), who lost his third fight in a row by knockout, was never in the fight. Erdei (33-0, 18 KOs) beat Mitchell, of Dothan, Ala., to the punch round after round.
War Of Ambition
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Mitchell was beginning to fade in the fifth round when Erdei began to really pick up the pace and was hitting him nearly at will. Mitchell looked exhausted and ready to drop just as the round ended.
In the sixth round, Erdei, 37, dropped Mitchell, also 37, early in the round. Mitchell easily beat the count but looked weary. Erdei continued to tee off on him with both hands until a booming right-left combination dropped him again. Mitchell beat the count again, but he was non-responsive to referee Eddie Cotton, who stopped the fight at 1 minute, 58 seconds.
Erdei had held a light heavyweight belt but vacated it to move up in weight and won a cruiserweight title in 2009. After a one-year layoff, Erdei decided to return to light heavyweight, signed with promoter Lou DiBella and came to the United States to campaign. He won his return to the division in November, but looked a bit rusty.
He looked sharp against Mitchell as he closes in on a shot at a belt.
"I thought he looked much better than the fight in November," DiBella said. "The last time, he was rusty. His hands were flying tonight. He throws combinations, he's a very good boxer and he belongs in that group of fighters at the top of the division. He's a very good fighter."
Erdei, who could loom as a challenger for titlist Nathan Cleverly, has designs on bigger names such as champion Bernard Hopkins or even Jean Pascal, who lost the championship to Hopkins on May 21 in a close fight.
"We are looking for a world championship," said Erdei, who had trainer Fritz Sdunek back in his corner after he had to miss the November bout. "I met Hopkins [who is in town for the fight] earlier at the hotel and I have great respect for him. Hopkins is the best boxer in this division. It will be a big challenge if I get a chance to fight this guy. Let's see it happen."
Hopkins likely will defend his title against former titlist Chad Dawson in the fall. It is possible Pascal could be on the undercard and would need an opponent.
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Miranda cruises to decision
Colombian crowd-pleaser Edison Miranda, who has lost world title bouts as a middleweight (to Arthur Abraham) and super middleweight (to Lucian Bute), began his campaign at light heavyweight with a lopsided eight-round decision victory against Pittsburgh journeyman Rayco Saunders (20-14-2, 8 KOs). Miranda (34-5, 29 KOs), who lives in Miami, was fighting for the first time since suffering a third-round knockout loss to Bute in April 2010. He turned in a methodical performance in which he landed numerous right hands and body shots, and won 80-73 and 79-73 (twice).
• Detroit middleweight prospect J'Leon Love (7-0, 5 KOs) battered Lamar Harris (6-8-3, 4 KOs) of St. Louis all over the ring for virtually all of their four-round bout for a shutout decision victory. Harris showed a lot of heart to make it to the final bell against Love, who dropped him in the third round and won 40-35 on all three scorecards.
• Junior welterweight Ivan Redkach (6-0, 5 KOs), a native of Ukraine based in Los Angeles, stormed to victory in his first fight since signing with promoter Lou DiBella. Redkach, 25, manhandled game Alberto Amaro (6-6, 2 KOs) of Puerto Rico. He knocked down Amaro with a flush right-left combination late in the fifth round and continued to pound him in the sixth round until referee Steve Smoger intervened at 1 minute, 46 seconds.
• Light heavyweight Badou Jack (6-0, 5 KOs), a native of Sweden who fought for Gambia in the 2008 Olympics and is now based in Las Vegas, pummeled Hajro Sujak (6-2, 2 KOs) of Bronx, N.Y., for a fifth-round knockout in his first fight since signing with DiBella. Jack, 27, was clearly the stronger fighter as he battered Sujak. By the fifth round, Sujack's face was marked up and Jack was hitting him at will until Sujack's corner threw in the towel and referee Cotton stopped it at 1 minute, 30 seconds.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.
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