Photos: Team Erdei
During his preparations for Saturday’s clash against former world champion Byron Mitchell, unbeaten former light heavyweight and cruiserweight champion Zsolt Erdei (32-0, 17 KOs) has trained at two famous Philadelphia boxing gyms, the Joe Hand Boxing Gym and the James Shuler Memorial Gym.
Erdei usually used the Joe Hand Gym for his morning exercises focusing on his fitness and coordination workouts. The gym is managed and supervised by Danny Davis, who also helps with the preparation of Bernard Hopkins. “I have heard that Bernard Hopkins visits this gym regularly, the last time was yesterday.” said Erdei. “I have seen the fight and the deserved win for Hopkins in a sports bar here in Philadelphia. Unfortunately we have missed each other last week here in the gym. The two gyms that I’m using for my preparation are the best ones that you can find. There is a great boxing atmosphere and you can feel the traditional American boxing scene.”
He continued, “It has been the ideal place for me to acclimate to be in the US. It is impressive how they made me feel welcome and looked at my work appreciatively. Not only in the gym during training but also on the street and in restaurants. That’s different to some places in Europe. I’m feeling very very good when I’m here. The training was fine, everything goes on schedule. Physically I am feeling fine and I am in great shape. On the other side I am in the 19th week of the preparation and it’s a little bit exhausting but my aim is to be in the best shape in Atlantic City next week. I’m very excited and ready to step into the ring and face Byron Mitchell on Saturday.”
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Erdei finished his final sparring session this past weekend. In the gym of Percy Custus, also known as the James Shuler Memorial Gym. The Hungarian champion found excellent training conditions and great training partners. IBF cruiserweight world champion Steve Cunningham, who is also in training for his next fight, came by and took a look at Erdei’s sparring session. Afterwards both fighters had a longer talk and Cunningham holds a high regard and respect on the boxing skills of Erdei.
“It is a very interesting situation as I now fight in Europe and Zsolt has the courage to take the step to fight in America, It’s a great feeling and it honors me that he is training in my home gym, which is one of the best ones in Philly,” said “USS” Steve Cunningham.
Alongside Cunningham there are also the heavyweight Eddie Chambers and light heavyweight Yusaf Mack (who is going to fight against Tavoris Cloud on Juni 25) currently in training and preparing for their upcoming fights. The gym has great atmosphere and it’s an excellent place for Zsolt to assimilate with the circulation of the American boxing. Erdei’s sparring partners were Dhafir Smith and the Julien Williams and despite the high temperatures Erdei showed a his dominance in boxing skills and excellent physical shape.
“The temperature and humidity inside the gym was very high so I didn’t need too much warm-up. But the atmosphere and the many people watching was amazing! Small children, former boxers and world champions were all present and train in the gym. The gym is full of boxers and everybody do their exercises: warm-up, sandbad training or sparring. They were friendly, made me feel welcome and I felt after the second sparring they looked at me with respect. They watched our workouts and acknowledged them. In this place you feel the respect, everybody is equal. I am very satisfied and happy with my preparation and ready to take on Byron Mitchell. I spoke with Cunningham and Mack a few time because we exercised together and we talked about the current situation in our weight divisions. Maybe we will meet again one day,” Erdei said smiling.