Ruiz, Gassiev Withdraw From IBF Eliminator, Wait Goes On For Hrgovic

The search goes on for someone to step up and face Filip Hrgovic in an IBF heavyweight title eliminator.

Michael Hunter, Luis Ortiz, Joseph Parker and most recently Tony Yoka have already said no to the fight or withdrew from facing the Croat.

The IBF then sent letters to the representatives of Andy Ruiz and Murat Gassiev who were next in their rankings. It didn’t take long before the response was no due to both fighters suffering from injury.

So, who will face Hrgovic? With the top nine unavailable Charles Martin is next at ten. But since the American suffered a defeat to Luis Ortiz and will likely fall further in the ratings or even out of the top 15, he will not be given the chance. Joseph Parker, ranked 11th, refused which takes us to the remaining four fighters left. Demsey McKean (12), Zhilei Zhang (13), Hughie Fury (14) and Martin Bakole (15).

It is highly unlikely that McKean, who recently signed a promotional deal with Matchroom, would take a fight against Hrgovic given his lack of experience at that level. Bakole was scheduled to face Tony Yoka last month, but the fight was pulled due to Covid restrictions at indoor venues. The French Olympic Gold medallist then had to turn down the IBF eliminator because of a contractual dispute he and his team have with Bakole. By the powers of deduction, we are left with Zhang and Hughie Fury.

Last month Zhang declared his interest in the fight saying, “Hrgovic is no boogeyman. I’ve made it known that if my name comes up, I’ll step up and take it.”

Fury, trained by his father Peter, challenged for the WBO heavyweight title in 2017 losing to Joseph Parker on a decision that could have gone either way. The 27-year-old has won six and lost two since then.