Filip Hrgovic to force Anthony Joshua fight for IBF title

By Boxing News - 09/13/2021 - Comments

By Huck Allen: Filip Hrgovic is one win away from forcing a fight against IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. Ranked #3 with the International Boxing Federation, the unbeaten 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Hrgovic (13-0, 11 KOs) will be competing in an IBF title eliminator later this year.

If the Croatian Hrgovic, 29, is victorious in the IBF eliminator, he’ll be a mandatory challenge for Joshua, who won’t have any choice in the matter of whether to fight him or not.

The only question now is who will Hrgovic be fighting for the IBF title eliminator. His promoter Kalle Sauerland mentioned #15 Martin Bakole (16-1, 12 KOs) as an option for Hrgovic to fight in the eliminator in November or December.

As long as Bakole, 28, wins his 10-round tune-up fight against Haruna Osumanu (11-2, 7 KOs) on September 18th in Dubai, he remains a strong possibility for Hrgovic to battle later this year for the IBF title eliminator.

“It’s a massive opportunity for him to fulfill his dream of becoming world champion.  El Animal is coming,” said Sauerland to Sky Sports.

Image: Filip Hrgovic to force Anthony Joshua fight for IBF title

Hrgovic must fight a lot better than he did last Friday night against Marko Radonjic (22-1, 22 KOs) in their fight in Australia.

Although Hrgovic knocked the little-known southpaw Radonjic down five times en route to stopping him in the third round, he didn’t look at all impressive.

Compared to some of Hrgovic’s past performances over the last four years, this was by far the worst he’s looked since turning professional in 2017.

Whether this is a sign of ring rust or the beginning of deterioration is unclear at this point. While Hrgovic is far from being old at 29, he’s slow, robotic, and lacks the fluidity of arguably more talented athletes like Joshua, Tyson Fury, and Oleksandr Usyk.

At 6’6, 240+ lbs, Hrgovic punches with a lot of power, making up for his lack of speed and athleticism.

“Next for Filip Hrgovic is the final eliminator for the IBF world heavyweight championship, and that is a fight that will take place later this year,” said Sauerland.

If Hrgovic does fight the 6’6″ Bakole next, he will need to raise his game considerably because this is a guy with power and a good chin.

Bakole is someone that could cause Hrgovic to come undone if he fails to fight better than he did last Friday against Marko Radonjic.

Hrgovic isn’t accustomed to getting hit because of the weak opposition his management has matched him against as a pro, but against Bakole, he’s going to get tested.

Hrgovic’s promoter Sauerland will likely look to go in another direction rather than putting him in with Bakole for the IBF title eliminator.

Fortunately for Sauerland and Hrgovic, Bakole is ranked #15 with the IBF, but many arguably weaker contenders are ranked above him.

Other options for Hrgovic:

Joseph Parker
Agit Kabayel
Andy Ruiz Jr
Luis Ortiz
Demsey McKean
Otto Wallin
Zhang Zhilei
Hughie Fury

Surprisingly, these heavyweights are ranked above Bakole in the IBF’s top 15 rankings, and many of them would likely easier fights for Hrgovic.

“Fury has his awkward style, but that’s all he has,” said Hrgovic. “Joshua is the more complete fighter.

“He [Joshua] is the bigger puncher, he throws more combinations, he is good with the jab and fast with his feet. He is better at inside-fighting [than Fury],” said Hrgovic.

Fury is an elusive fighter who can’t fight on the inside or throw with power. He struggles against fighters that throw combinations like Joshua, and the wheels would likely come off for the 6’9″ Tyson if and when he does face AJ.

Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) will be defending his IBF, WBA & WBO heavyweight titles against Oleksandr Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) on September 25th at the Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium in North London, UK.