Tony Thompson mauls Paul Marinaccio

Tony Thompson has fought his way back into the thick of things at heavyweight. Marco Perez for ESPN.com

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- With good power, a 6-foot-5 frame, 82-inch reach and pain-in-the-neck southpaw style, heavyweight contender Tony Thompson didn't get a title shot until he had worked his way into a mandatory position. Nobody was going to just offer him a shot without being forced to give it to him.

Thompson got his opportunity in July 2008 and performed as well as any recent Wladimir Klitschko opponent has in years, but he was stopped in the 11th round.

Thompson, though, still hopes for another opportunity at age 39, and continued to pound his way toward another one as he stopped Paul Marinaccio in the fourth round Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall on the undercard of the Sergio Martinez-Paul Williams rematch for the middleweight championship.

Thompson (35-2, 23 KOs), of Washington, D.C., dominated his slower, 43-year-old opponent with ease to win his fourth fight in a row since losing to Klitschko.

"I just want to get him one more shot," promoter Dan Goossen said. "He's earned it."

Thompson handed Marinaccio (24-6-3, 11 KOs), of Buffalo, his third loss in a row.

Thompson was in command from the outset, but began to pour it on in the third round. He hurt Marinaccio repeatedly in the round, trapping him in a corner and teeing off with an assortment of punches. Thompson appeared to have Marinaccio ready to go at the end of the round until the bell rang to save him from additional punishment.

But in the fourth, Thompson ended things. He trapped Marinaccio in a corner again and unleashed roughly a dozen unanswered punches, forcing referee David Fields to intervene at 2 minutes, 2 seconds.

"I felt it was a mediocre performance on my behalf," Thompson said. "I thought it would have been easier fighting a left-hander because my jab is so good. It took me a while, but I figured out a savvy veteran fighter. I was trying to set him up with fight-ending shots. Touch, touch and break him. In the end, I eliminated anything he wanted to do to me."

Thompson had prepared for the fight as one of the main sparring partners for titleholder David Haye, who was getting ready for his title defense against Audley Harrison last week. Thompson was supposed to fight in June, but withdrew from the fight to nurse a sore shoulder.

Erdei cruises past Onyango

Former two-division titlist Zsolt Erdei has long been one of the top light heavyweights, but unknown outside of Germany and his native Hungary, where he has rock star status.

But at 36 -- and after a brief retirement -- he decided to come to the United States to try to make another title run. He signed with promoter Lou DiBella and came to Boardwalk Hall to show his stuff to HBO executives and the American fans and press corps while a throng of his fans chanted and waived Hungarian flags from the upper deck throughout his fight.

Fighting in the United States for just the third time -- the first two times were early in his career -- Erdei made it worth his fans' while as he easily outpointed Kenya's Samson Onyango (20-7, 13 KOs) in an eight-round light heavyweight fight.

It was good work for Erdei, who shook off the rust of a year-layoff. He hadn't fought since last November, when he moved up to cruiserweight and nabbed a title by outpointing Italy's Giacobbe Fragomeni. After the fight, Erdei (32-0, 17 KOs) retired, his contract with longtime German promoter Universum expired and he had not fought since.

"I worked out the rust tonight," Erdei said. "I was a little hesitant and my heart was beating. Next time it's another game."

Erdei dominated the fight. He was quicker with his punches and more accurate as he had Onyango backing up throughout the fight. In the end, the judges all had it for Erdei, 80-72 (twice) and 79-73.

"I controlled him with my jab," Erdei said. "I used the right a little but it wasn't precise enough. Next time I'll be able to hit anybody with it."

Erdei held a portion of the light heavyweight title from 2004 to 2009 and made 11 defenses before vacating the belt and making the one-fight move to cruiserweight.

Erdei, a two-time Olympian who received a bronze in 2000, would like to land a shot against the winner of the Dec. 18 fight between champion Jean Pascal and former champ Bernard Hopkins.

"It's up to my promoter but we're taking it step by step," Erdei said. "It's special for me to be in America and we're going to take it step by step."

• Salisbury, Md., middleweight prospect Fernando Guerrero (20-0, 16 KOs), a popular fighter in his hometown who brought a section of cheering fans, abused Mexico's Saul Duran (36-18-3, 29 KOs) en route to a fourth-round knockout.

Guerrero pounded on Duran throughout the first round, staggering him, and never let up. Duran did his best to try to hang in, but Guerrero kept on firing -- and landing. He dropped Duran with a left hand to the chin in the second round, battered him throughout the third round before finally dropping him to a knee for the full count with a flush three-punch combination at 1 minute, 6 seconds.

Duran, who spent most of his career fighting as a junior welterweight, took the fight on a few days' notice when original opponent Willis Locket failed a pre-fight medical exam.

• Featherweight prospect Luis Del Valle (11-0, 9 KOs) of Newburg, a former New York Golden Gloves winner, dismantled Mexico's Noe Lopez Jr. (6-7, 4 KOs) in a second-round knockout win. De Valle, a flashy 23-year-old, dominated the opening round and then dropped Lopez twice in the second round. When Lopez got up from the second knockdown, he was unsteady and referee Ricardo Vera stopped it at 1 minute, 48 seconds.

• In the first fight of the card, Cleveland welterweight Willie Nelson (16-0-1, 10 KOs), 23, blew out San Antonio's Quinton Whitaker (7-9, 5 KOs), dropping him three times in the first round for a knockout at 2 minutes, 22 seconds. Nelson's first solid punch, a right to the chin, dropped Whitaker. Then it was a left to the side of the head as soon as the fight resumed and then an ensuing flurry that put him down for the third time as referee Fields called it off. It was an impressive performance for Nelson, considering that Whitaker went the six-round distance with prospect Glen Tapia and broke his jaw in their Oct. 30 fight.