Will Usyk Comply Or Might He Be Stripped Of The Belt?
Fans are waiting for the big, four-belt heavyweight unification clash between WBA/IBF/WBO champ Oleksandr Usyk and current WBC boss Tyson Fury, with the fight supposed to be in negotiations for February or March of next year. This is the fight Usyk wants, while Fury is taking on old foe Derek Chisora on December 3 in what has been described as a warm-up for the Usyk showdown.
But now, as is so often the way in the sport of boxing, things have become a little complicated. It’s been reported how Usyk has been ordered by the IBF to defend against mandatory challenger Filip Hrgovic in his next fight. An IBF heavyweight mandatory fight is long overdue – the last one being the fight between then IBF champ Anthony Joshua and challenger Kubrat Pulev in December of 2020 – and now the folks at the IBF are insisting Hrgovic gets his deserved shot, his earned shot.
Hrgovic beat Zhilei Zhang, on the under card of the Usyk-Joshua rematch, to earn his shot. Usually, a unification fight trumps a mandatory, yet Eddie Hearn said last night, as reported by Talk Sport, that “immediate purse bids” have been requested for the Usyk-Hrgovic fight. So it seems Usyk will either agree to defend his IBF belt against the unbeaten Croatian or he will vacate the belt and go ahead with the Fury fight we all want to see.
But if the latter happened, Usyk Vs. Fury would not be for all the belts, for all the marbles. Usyk has said many times that he wants to win all four belts, so who knows what he will do here. Boxing politics, don’t you just hate them at times!
Usyk-Hrgovic is not a bad fight by any means, however. The 30 year old Croatian, a superb amateur like Usyk, is currently unbeaten at 15-0(12) and the 30 year old has had trouble getting big names to face him, so good he was perceived to be. But against Zhang, Hrgovic either had a terrible off night or he is not as special as he had previously appeared to be. Hrgovic was at times awful in the fight with “Big Bang,” with Hrgovic taking plenty of punches, with him seemingly gassing out alarmingly early, and with “El Animal” also appearing to lose concentration. Some observers wondered if Hrgovic was suffering from the effects of jet lag in the fight in Saudi Arabia.
Hrgovic was awarded with a unanimous decision that some felt should have gone to Zhang. But prior to that fight, Hrgovic had taken care of business in each of his fights, all of them failing to go the distance. Again, maybe Hrgovic did had a bad night at the office against the towering Chinese southpaw. If he does get a shot at Usyk next, Hrgovic and his supporters had better hope so.