At the beginning of the year, Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk looked nailed on to fight and crown the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis.
Those talks collapsed quite spectacularly, and both teams retreated to make other plans which are now signed. For Usyk, that is defending his unified belts against WBA mandatory challenger, Daniel Dubois, in August.
Fury will not be putting his WBC belt on the line this year, instead opting for a crossover contest against boxing debutant and MMA star, Francis Ngannou, in October.
Fans hoped that a win for each man – tougher for Usyk given Fury’s contest has little jeopardy – would see them re-enter talks to make their fight and crown the best heavyweight of a generation.
Enter Filip Hrgovic, who has just defended his IBF mandatory position by stopping previously undefeated Demsey McKean in the twelfth round.
His co-promoter, Eddie Hearn, told Boxing Social that the sanctioning body had confirmed he would be called to face the winner of Usyk-Dubois immediately.
“He needed to get that fight, he needed to be active, and also the IBF confirmed that, after the Usyk-Dubois fight, they will call the immediate mandatory now for Filip Hrgovic. So he will fight the winner of that next.”
Many felt that, outside of the stoppage, Hrgovic was laboured and struggled with his conditioning against McKean. Hearn believes that the best will be brought out of him should he get his world title shot.
“I think that he need to jump to those kind of levels, because I feel like the level he’s boxing you’re not necessarily gonna see the best of Filip Hrgovic. You can miss the boat sometimes.
He’s 30 years old. He’s still quite young, but he need to be a little bit more active and he’s ready to roll the dice now.”
The next moves on the heavyweight chess board will be made by Usyk and Dubois on August 26.
Should Hrgovic indeed be ordered to face the winner with no exceptions, Fury will likely be given a WBC mandatory not so long after.
Fans will begin to feel that there was one moment in time that the undisputed fight had its best chance, and that has been and gone.