The IBF heavyweight title final eliminator between Filip Hrgovic and Tony Yoka is in danger of not going ahead.
This week Yoka stepped up and agreed to face his old amateur rival after many had refused the opportunity to face the unbeaten Croat. A fascinating clash of unbeaten contenders was one to look forward to but a contract dispute involving a previously agreed fight between Yoka, and Martin Bakole is proving to be a stumbling block, according to ESPN’s Mike Coppinger.
Yoka and Bakole had been originally scheduled to fight last weekend in Paris, but Covid-19 restrictions postponed the fight after limits placed by the French government on how many people could attend an indoor event. According to Bakole’s manager and trainer Billy Nelson the contract ensured that Yoka’s co-promoter, AllStar Boxing and its president Jerome Abiteboul would decide if the fight would be cancelled or postponed. Abiteboul wrote that March 5 or 12 would be the optional dates for the fight, according to Nelson.
Nelson told ESPN: “People should honour their contracts, shouldn’t they?” The Scot added, “I just think it was very unjust and unfair that you can even talk to somebody when you sign the contract.
“The IBF rules are very clear. When you sign a contract, you’re unavailable to fight in an eliminator.
Top Rank, who also co-promote Yoka, issued a comment through their Media Relations Director Evan Korn. “All parties are waiting on the BF to make a ruling as to whether Yoka-Hrgovic can go further.”
Coppinger says that a ruling from the Federation’s president Daryl Peoples is imminent.
Hrgovic, co-promoted by Kalle Sauerland and Eddie Hearn, has grown frustrated at attempts to find an opponent for this final eliminator after the likes of Michael Hunter, Luis Ortiz and Joseph Parker all passed on the fight for various reasons. It now remains to be seen whether ‘El Animal’ will have the opportunity to make it 2-2 in his fight series with Yoka, which began in the amateurs, or begin a new search for another opponent.