With no apparent movement on the WBC ordered elimination bout between former heavyweight champions Deontay Wilder and Andy Ruiz, comes a curveball in the form of an IBF ordered purse bid for an interim title fight between Ruiz and unbeaten contender Filip Hrgovic. The date for the bid is February 28th. Mike Coppinger broke the news.
Wilder, if reports can be believed, is unhappy with PBC, and with the money on offer for the fight with Ruiz, and the former WBC champ is said to be “exploring other options,” as in which fight to take and who he could move on to work with. There is plenty of chatter about the possibility of Wilder fighting former UFC heavyweight star Francis Ngannou next if the Ruiz fight – which is still a possibility – doesn’t get nailed down.
As confusing as the Wilder situation is (with there being yet more chatter, this suggesting Wilder and Tyson Fury recently engaged in “secret talks,” the topic of conversation being a possible fourth fight between the two, this if the Fury-Oleksandr Usyk fight for some reason falls apart) – the IBF order is something nobody saw coming.
As a fight, Ruiz Vs. Hrgovic is a good one, an interesting one, but Usyk is the IBF heavyweight champion and why there is any need for an interim champion, what with Usyk all set to fight Fury in a massive unification showdown, only the folks at the IBF know. In addition, with this ordered purse bid, the organisation has seemingly forgotten one of its own rules, this being (according to Wikipedia) IBF rule 16. B: no purse bids can be called for interim championship bouts.
No wonder the man on the street gets confused when asked to name the heavyweight champion, or champions.
But sticking to the boxing and forgetting the politics if we can, Ruiz, 35-2(22) and just two wins removed from his out of shape December, 2019 rematch defeat to Anthony Joshua, would be the toughest foe yet for the 15-0(12) Hrgovic – on paper at least. Hrgovic struggled mightily in his last outing, this when he laboured to a debatable 12 round decision win over Zhilei Zhang on the Usyk-Joshua II card last August.
If Ruiz does get this fight, and if “The Destroyer” turns up in good shape, Hrgovic could be in trouble. For some time, plenty of us felt Hrgovic was the avoided danger man of the division, a future champion if only he would be able to get the top guys in the ring with him. That Zhang fight seriously changed this opinion. Or did Hrgovic merely have a bad night in Saudi Arabia?