Joseph Parker is the latest fighter to turn down the IBF final eliminator against Filip Hrgovic for the mandatory spot. No reason was given for why Parker (30-2, 21 KOs) rejected the fight with ‘El Animal’ Hrgovic (14-0, 12 KOs), but it’s likely the money wasn’t worth it for him to accept it.
The IBF will ask the next highest-ranked contender in their top 15 rankings. In this case, it’ll be #6 Tony Yoka, but he’s not likely to accept because he’s scheduled to face Martin Bakole on January 15th in Paris, France.
Yoka would be a hard fight for Hrgovic because he lost to him twice in the amateurs, and he couldn’t deal with the skills of the French fighter.
If Yoka (11-0, 9 KOs) turns down the fight, the IBF will work through this list:
7. Joe Joyce
8. Agit Kabayel
9. Murat Gassiev
The unbeaten Joyce would be an interesting opponent for Hrgovic to fight, and he might be a little too tough for the Croatian.
The size, jab, and the Foreman-like power or Joyce would make him a nightmare for Hrgovic, who is easy to hit and hasn’t looked impressive against the low-level opposition that his promoters have been feeding him since he turned pro in 2017.
Former cruiserweight champion Murat Gassiev (28-1, 21 KOs) would be another hard fight for Hrgovic because of the punching power of the Russian.
Gassiev’s work rate tends to be on the low side, but his power makes him dangerous. It would be interesting to see how Hrgovic stands up to Gassiev’s best shots. The rabbit punches that Hrgovic throws at times make him dangerous because he’s lethal with those shots.
Hrgovic’s promoter wants Zhang
“We know that Zhang [Zhilei] wants it, and that would be a great fight,” said Hrgovic’s promoter Nisse Sauerland to Secondsout on the IBF title eliminator.
“The rest pretty much have fights or they’re injured. You can’t expect AJ [Anthony Joshua] to accept it. I wish he would.
“They’re [IBF] doing the right thing by giving people three days to answer. It’s usually a little bit longer than that. I just hope that people don’t pull a Michael Hunter where they go through the whole process of negotiations, purse bids, us having to bid.
“Then waiting the whole two weeks with the contract and then pulling out. I understand partly why Ortiz doesn’t want to fight Filip. I understand all these reasons but don’t tread water deliberately to stop another man from earning a living. Be honorable,” said Sauerland.
It’s easy to see why Sauerland would like Zhang to be the opponent for Hrgovic because that’s a slam dunk win for Hrgovic. Zhang is more of a bottom fringe level heavyweight.
If it comes down to Zhang, the IBF might as well make Hrgovic their mandatory rather than going through this with this mismatch.