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IBF orders Luis Ortiz vs. Filip Hrgovic title eliminator

Image: IBF orders Luis Ortiz vs. Filip Hrgovic title eliminator

By Jim Calfa: The IBF has ordered a final heavyweight title eliminator between Filip ‘El Animal’ Hrgovic and Luis ‘King Kong’ Ortiz to determine a mandatory challenger for champion Oleksandr Usyk.

Hrgovic (14-0, 12 KOs) and the 42-year-old Ortiz (33-2, 28 KOs) were sent letters by the International Boxing Federation on Monday, giving them until this Thursday to agree to fight contest, according to Dan Rafael.

If one or both fighters fail to accept the fight, the IBF will look for the next available contender in their top 15 rankings willing to participate in the final eliminator.

Ortiz was not impressive against Martin

Thus far, the 29-year-old Hrgovic has expressed interest in fighting Ortiz in the IBF’s final eliminator. It’s unknown if the former two-time world title challenger Ortiz will accept.

Last Saturday night, Ortiz was forced to rally to defeat 35-year-old Charles Martin by a sixth round knockout at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, Florida.

While the Ortiz vs. Martin fight was advertised as an IBF title eliminator, it was a semifinal, not a final, to become mandatory to champion Oleksandr Usyk.

For Ortiz to become the IBF mandatory, he’ll need to defeat the 6’6″ Hrgovic, which won’t be an easy task given how he looked against the southpaw Martin.

Image: IBF orders Luis Ortiz vs. Filip Hrgovic title eliminator

Ortiz was twice dropped by the former IBF champion Martin and didn’t look sharp.

Although Ortiz came back to knock Martin down twice to get the stoppage in the sixth, it wasn’t the type of performance that would give one confidence that the Cuban will beat a fighter of the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Hrgovic’s caliber.

Other options for Hrgovic

If Ortiz doesn’t take the fight with Hrgovic, the IBF will move down this list to find a heavyweight that is agreeable to facing ‘El Animal’ in a final eliminator:

4. Joseph Parker
5. Anthony Joshua
6. Tony Yoka
7. Joe Joyce
8. Agit Kabayel
9. Murat Gassiev
10. Luis Ortiz
11. Andy Ruiz Jr
12. Demsey McKean
13. Zhang Zhilei
14. Hughie Fury
15. Martin Bakole

Luis Ortiz will freeze from my punches. My power will give him a cold shower,” Hrgovic said to Dan Rafael’s Fight Freaks site.

As long as Hrgovic doesn’t hit Ortiz with rabbit punches, he’ll be given credit for the win by boxing fans. In some of Hrgovic’s fights, one can see him landing repeated punches to the back of his opponent’s heads.

Ortiz is the more powerful and gifted fighter than Hrgovic, even at his ripe age, in terms of power and athleticism. However, Ortiz’s stamina, mobility, and questionable punch resistance will make it difficult for him to beat Hrgovic.

The Croatian fighter Hrgovic has a good chin, and Ortiz might not hurt him the way he did with Martin. In that case, he’ll need to go the distance to get a victory over Hrgovic, which will be difficult for him to do.

Hrgovic fights out of an orthodox stance, he doesn’t possess the hand speed that Charles Martin showed last Saturday, so perhaps Ortiz won’t be as confused by his style.

Hrgovic said he wants to send the 42-year-old Ortiz into a “well-deserved retirement” by beating him.

Sauerland hopes Ortiz accepts the fight

“Hopefully, that will be the fight, Ortiz against Hrgovic,” said Hrgovic’s promoter Nisse Sauerland to Fight Freaks. “Whoever wants to fight for the (IBF) world title has to go through (Hrgovic). We’re accepting the challenge, and I’m hoping (Ortiz) is accepting the challenge as well. I think it will be a great fight.”

In 2021, Hrgovic fought twice, beating little-known Emir Ahmatovic and Marko Radonjic by knockout.

In Hrgovic’s third round knockout win over Ahmatovic last December, he was getting hit hard by the Germany-based Serbian fighter.

Hrgovic won the fight, but he didn’t look like a high-caliber heavyweight.

Mostly, Hrgovic looked robotic, like a stiff, slower, less mobile, and athletic version of former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.

Hrgovic has good power, but he’s very robotic and would have a tough time beating agile heavyweights like Usyk, Tyson Fury, Tony Yoka, and Frank Sanchez. Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce would give Hrgovic problems with their power.

If Luis Ortiz rejects the fight with Hrgovic, it’s unclear his path to a third title shot.

Perhaps Ortiz doesn’t care at this point if he fights for another title because without him becoming mandatory for one of the belts, he has virtually no chance of getting a shot against Fury or Usyk.

Andy Ruiz Jr. is a potential option for Ortiz’s next fight. The two have been mentioned for months as potentially fighting. On Monday, Ruiz, 32, said on social media that he’d have a fight date announcement soon.

However, Ruiz could be given a title shot against WBC champion Fury, as his promoter Bob Arum mentioned recently that Andy is one of two options for Tyson’s next fight.

It’s unlikely Ruiz will agree to fight Ortiz, even if he’s not given a title shot by Fury. Ruiz is expected to fight fringe-level heavyweights until he’s given another shot at a world title just based on his popularity, and him being a former champion.

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