Former light heavyweight titlist Zsolt Erdei of Hungary broke two of his ribs during a sparring session, forcing him to withdraw on Wednesday from his Sept. 29 fight against South African contender Isaac Chilemba.
Erdei was due to face Chilemba in a scheduled 10-round bout in the opener of a "Boxing After Dark" tripleheader on HBO at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods in Mashantucket, Conn.
"I can't express enough how disappointed I am," Erdei said. "I wanted this fight so badly. To be honest, I was so upset when this happened that I thought I would retire, but after speaking with my family and friends, I have decided that I will be back. Fighting is my life and I am going to be coming back soon as possible."
Erdei was nearing the end of his training in Europe and getting ready to travel to the United States when he suffered the injury. According to promoter Lou DiBella, Erdei was hit with a body shot in an awkward spot, causing the ribs to break.
"He broke two ribs. What can you do?" DiBella said. "He was flirting with the idea of whether he would retire but he knows this could happen to anyone. He got hit at the wrong angle. We'll get him back in the ring ASAP when he heals. We'll get him a fight and then after that we'll try to get him a shot at (a title)."
This is the second consecutive fight that the 38-year-old Erdei (33-0, 18 KOs) has withdrawn from because of an injury. Erdei was supposed to challenge light heavyweight titleholder Tavoris Cloud in a Showtime main event Dec. 31, but pulled out a month ahead of time after injuring his right hand during training. Erdei's withdrawal from that card caused Showtime to cancel the show.
Erdei has not fought since June 2011, when he knocked out former super middleweight titlist Byron Mitchell in the sixth round.
Erdei held a 175-pound title from 2004-09, making 11 defenses before he relinquished the title for an opportunity to fight for a cruiserweight world title. In 2009, he outpointed Giacobbe Fragomeni to claim a cruiserweight belt -- which he never defended because he retired -- before coming back a year later in his return to the light heavyweight division.
The Sept. 29 HBO show still will go on with a possible replacement opponent facing Chilemba (19-1-1, 9 KOs). Rising super middleweight prospect Edwin Rodriguez (21-0, 14 KOs) will face Jason Escalera (13-0-1, 12 KOs) in the main event, and Puerto Rican junior featherweight prospect Luis Orlando Del Valle (16-0, 11 KOs) steps up in competition to face former flyweight and junior bantamweight titleholder Vic Darchinyan (37-5-1, 27 KOs) of Australia in the co-feature.