By Jake Donovan

Zsolt Erdei is now a two-division champion, thanks to a spirited effort in a successful move to cruiserweight, as he outlasted Giacobe Fragemoni in a terrific action fight Saturday evening at the Sparkassen Arena in Kiel, Germany.

Fragemoni weighed in below the cruiserweight limit at 195 ¾ lb; Erdei’s cruiserweight debut hardly abandoned his light heavyweight roots, conceding 17 lb. on the scales as he weighed just 178 ¾.

The opening round set the table for how most of the fight would play out, with both fighters maintaining a surprisingly brisk pace. Erdei kept the defending titlist at the end of his jab in his greatest efforts to keep as much distance between the two.

Fragemoni plodded his way forward in the second, trying to close the gap and mount an attack. Erdei wisely played defense, slipping nearly all of the Italian’s punches and countering with overhand rights. The jab continued to be an effective weapon for Erdei, using the stick to set up his right and also to reposition himself to remain beyond Fragemoni’s effective punching range.

The two fought at close quarters in the third, which was good news for Fragemoni, who was able to effectively touch Erdei with his right hand for the first time in the fight. Erdei enjoyed success of his own on the inside, but spent enough of the round on the defensive to believe he momentarily allowed the visiting champ back into the fight.

Erdei went back to basics in the fourth, but not before Fragemoni enjoyed a surge early in the round. By the middle of the round, Erdei was back to jabbing and slipping, making Fragemoni look foolish at times as overhand rights missed by a wide margin.

Someone forgot to preach to Erdei the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The transplanted Hungarian went back on the inside in the fifth, which only played to Fragemoni’s strengths, as the only time the Italian was effective was when he wasn’t forced to pursue.

The preceding round gave Fragemoni a dose of confidence entering the sixth, forcing Erdei to fight in reverse, rather than Erdei fighting while willingly moving backwards as had been the case earlier in the fight. Most of the round took place in the center of the ring, with the best exchange of the fight taking place late. Fragemoni connected with a right hand, only to leave himself open for a left hook, right hand counter from the smaller Erdei, who appeared to get the better of the series.

Things took a dramatic turn for the worse early in the second half of the fight for Erdei, as fatigue appeared to be setting in. Perhaps Fragemoni’s considerable weight and strength advantage was too much to contend with for a long stretch.

Whatever the case, the reigning lineal light heavyweight champ looked anything but stellar in the seventh, spending much of his time on the defensive while Fragemoni smothered him every chance he had. Erdei enjoyed a brief respite at the end of the eighth, effectively targeting the Italian’s midsection as he literally punched his way back into the fight.

Sensing the possibility of getting screwed on the road after hearing Erdei was up on all three scorecards after eight rounds thanks to open scoring, Fragemoni’s corner urged their charge to take advantage of a rapidly fatiguing Erdei and move in for the kill. Their instincts were correct, though the strategy actually backfired. Erdei enjoyed his best round since earlier in the fight, weathering an early storm and mounting an attack late in the frame.

Even worse than losing the round was the fact that Fragemoni appeared to punch himself out heading into the tenth. Erdei was hardly a ball of energy himself, but had the wherewithal to bury his head in his opponent’s chest and dig to the body.

With the fight appearing to slip away, Fragemoni dug deep in the championship rounds. He enjoyed a huge bounce back round in the 11th, hurting Erdei on several occasions on the strength of a digging body attack. The Italian went on the hunt in the final round, while Erdei bore the look of a man desperate to cross the finish line until digging deep in the final 30 seconds. Fragemoni was getting the better of the exchanges, though neither fighter gave an inch down the stretch, much to the delight of the capacity crowd on hand, giving both fighters a well-deserved standing ovation at fights end.

Both fighters paraded around the ring with the arms around one another in celebration, though there could only be one winner – except of course in the case of a draw, which was how judge Esa Lehtosaari scored it at 114-114. Judges Robin Dolpierre and Roger Tilleman were in agreement that there was in fact a winner, scoring it 115-113 in favor of Erdei, who improves to 31-0 (17KO).

The win makes Erdei a two-division champion, though undetermined for the moment is whether or not he’s ready to commit to a new life at cruiserweight. Weighing less than four pounds above the light heavyweight limit, the higher weight class hardly proved to be a good fit for the 5’10” Hungarian, who spent nearly the entire second half running on fumes.

A return to the light heavyweight division would keep his lineal title status intact, which he acquired with his decisive win over Julio Gonzalez nearly six years ago. Gone, however, is his alphabet title status, having vacated his belt prior to this contest.

For Fragemoni, it’s the end of a short-lived and bittersweet reign. He was somewhat impressive in capturing the vacant title last October via technical decision over previously unbeaten Rudolf Kraj. A split draw against Krysztof Wlodarczyk served as his only successful title defense before dropping a heartbreaker to Erdei.

The loss sends the Italian’s record to 26-2-1 (10KO). While a loss or two doesn’t end a career, beltless and 40 years of age doesn’t exactly leave Fragemoni with a world of options.

The bout aired live of German network ZDF.

Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of and an award-winning member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Contact Jake at .