Not only does Filip Hrgović at last have an opponent for his IBF heavyweight title final eliminator but he now has a date and location too.
The unbeaten Croat faces China’s Zhilei Zhang on the Canelo Alvarez-Dmitry Bivol May 7 undercard at the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas.
It has been a long wait for the 33-year-old to get everything signed and sealed after various opponents throughout the IBF top 15 either turned it down or said yes (Tony Yoka) despite being contractually obliged to another fight.
“I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for more than year,” said Hrgović. “Finally, I have an opponent willing to face me for the chance to fight for the IBF World Title. So many fighters turned down this challenge so credit to Zhang for being brave enough to accept.
“I know he’s a good opponent. He won silver at the Olympics so that means he’s a good boxer, but he is too slow on his feet, and I believe I have better the qualities. My speed, stamina and footwork will be too much for him. I will break him down and I will beat him.”
Zhang, 38, is unbeaten in 24 fights and facing Hrgović is a significant step up from the calibre of opponent he is used to facing. But the southpaw said he had to take the fight against ‘El Animal’.
“When no-one else from the top 15 wanted to face Hrgović, I told myself that I had to do it for me, and for the sport of boxing. This is the most important fight of my whole career. I’m all in. Don’t miss it!”