Will Usyk comply or might he be stripped of the belt?
Fans are eagerly awaiting the big, four-belt heavyweight unification bout between Oleksandr Usyk, WBA/IBF/WBO champion, and Tyson Fury, current WBC boss. The fight is expected to take place in February or March next year. This is the fight Usyk wants. Fury is taking on old foe Derek Chisora December 3, in what was described as a warm up for the Usyk showdown.
However, as is often the case in boxing, things have become a bit more 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 Zhilei, on the undercard for 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 appears that Usyk will either agree or vacate his IBF belt against the unbeaten Croatian fighter.
But, if the former happened, Usyk Vs. Fury It wouldn’t be for all the belts or all the marbles. Usyk has repeatedly stated that he wants to win all four of his belts. Who knows what he’ll do here? Boxing politics, don’t you just hate them at times!
Although Usyk and Hrgovic are not a bad fight, they are certainly close. The 30-year-old Croatian is a great amateur like Usyk and has not been beaten at 15-0(12). However, the 30 year-old has struggled to get big names to face him because he was considered to be as good as he was. Hrgovic was either not as good as he appeared to be against Zhang or had a bad night. 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 jet lag after the fight in Saudi Arabia.
Hrgovic was awarded a unanimous decision that many felt should have been given to Zhang. Hrgovic was a professional fighter, and had won all his fights. None of them went the distance. Hrgovic may have had a bad night at work against the Chinese southpaw. Hrgovic and his fans should be hopeful that he gets a shot at Usyk next.