Zagreb, Croatia (October 4, 2023) - With the highly anticipated heavyweight unification battle between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk confirmed and seemingly set in stone, IBF mandatory challenger Filip Hrgovic finds himself in a frustrating predicament. Hrgovic has held the IBF mandatory position since August 2022, following a contentious decision victory over Zhilei Zhang. However, he is still awaiting his title shot.
Following his win over Zhang, Hrgovic also secured a victory over Demsey McKean, though this occurred a full year after the Zhang fight. This win allowed Hrgovic to retain his IBF mandatory status. Now, with the heavyweight unification bout on the horizon, Hrgovic is likely to continue waiting.
Unification fights take precedence over mandatory defenses, and Hrgovic's promoter, Nisse Sauerland, has expressed frustration at the situation. Sauerland mentioned that they are considering legal action because they have been waiting since Hrgovic's victory over Zhang last August.
Sauerland believes that Hrgovic deserves his title shot and finds the delay unfair. However, he also anticipates that Hrgovic will have to remain active and "stay busy" while waiting for his opportunity.
"We have a position. I can't discuss it too much here. We are consulting some kind of a legal process because we've simply waited around since the Zhang fight last August for a mandatory," Sauerland explained. "I understand that everyone wants to see this fight [between Fury and Usyk]. And whatever anyone says [about Hrgovic] – 'he doesn't deserve it' – he's in that [mandatory] position. So you want to make a guy wait a year and a half? He's got a loss of earnings, at the prime of his career, it's just not very moral. I think he's gonna have to keep busy, isn't he? We'll see. He's had too many long spells off because of injury or inactivity."
While it's unlikely that Hrgovic and his team will succeed in postponing the Usyk-Fury fight to accommodate his title shot, it appears he will have to remain patient and stay active while the heavyweight division's dust settles. Fury and Usyk may engage in multiple bouts, potentially delaying Hrgovic's opportunity for over two years.
Ultimately, the boxing world eagerly anticipates the four-belt heavyweight unification showdown, and for Hrgovic, patience remains the name of the game.