By Sam Volz: Heavyweight contender Filip Hrgovic (14-0, 12 KOs) is focused on locking himself in as the IBF mandatory when he faces Zhilei Zhang (24-0-1, 19 KOs) in a 12-round title eliminator next week on August 20th on the Anthony Joshua vs. Oleksandr Usyk II undercard in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The 2016 Olympian from Croatia, Hrgovic, is tired of being avoided by the other top contenders in the division. One way for Hrgovic to stop being avoided is by becoming the IBF mandatory to heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk.
If Hrgovic can defeat the tough two-time Chinese Olympian Zhang on August 200th, he’ll be guaranteed a title shot. Even if that fight doesn’t take place until 2023, Hrgovic will be in the pole position for an opportunity to
Hrgovic’s target list:
- Anthony Joshua
- Oleksandr Usyk
- Joe Joyce
- Martin Bakole
- Frank Sanchez
The 30-year-old 2016 Olympian Hrgovic is ranked #3 IBF, #12 WBO, and #14 WBC.
Fortunately, Hrgovic is fighting in the IBF eliminator against the 39-year-old Zhang because it would literally take years for him to get a title shot with the WBO or WBC, given how low they have him ranked.
“Definitely [fighters avoid me],” Hrgovic told Sky Sports. “A lot of people didn’t want to fight me. I had a big opportunity to become IBF mandatory challenger, so a lot of people rejected the fight, and one of the reasons is that I am dangerous. Everyone knows they were going to have a hard time fighting me.
“Another reason maybe is I don’t put so much money on the table like some other guys from Great Britain or the USA.
“I become mandatory, and nobody in the future could avoid me any more,” said Hrgovic.
It’s business. If Hrgovic had come out of the Olympics with a gold medal in 2016, it would have helped him earn a quicker title shot.
Not being from the UK or U.S doesn’t help Hrgovic, as those are two popular countries where many of the top fighters in the sport originate.
“I’m a fighter who belongs at the top of this division, and there’ll be no doubt about this when Zhang is dealt with, and I go on to beat whoever it is out of Usyk or Joshua.