IBF orders Usyk to defend against Hrgovic, Fury out of luck for undisputed

By Boxing News - 11/13/2022 - Comments

By Scott Gilfoid: IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk has been ordered by the IBF to make a mandatory defense against #1 ranked contender Filip Hrgovic in his next fight. This is great news for fans because Usyk-Hrgovic is a far more interesting match-up than the slap-happy Tyson Fury fighting Usyk.

Hrgovic is a far more entertaining heavyweight than Fury, with more power, and capable of scoring knockouts with either hand.

Eddie Hearn, the promoter for Hrgovic, is forcing Usyk’s hand by ordering purse bids for the fight. This means that Usyk will either need to take the risky fight with Hrgovic or vacate his IBF belt.

Old Hearn is probably smiling like the Cheshire cat right now at the news of the IBF ordering Usyk to defend against his fighter Hrgovic next, especially after what transpired last Saturday night with Matchroom Boxing fighter Montana Love being disqualified for shoving Steve Spark out of the ring in their headliner fight in Cleveland, Ohio.

If Usyk vacates his IBF title, these are the options for who fights for the belt:

  • Andy Ruiz vs. Filip Hrgovic
  • Anthony Joshua vs. Filip Hrgovic

#3 Ruiz would be the first contender the IBF orders to face Hrogic. If Ruiz chooses not to take the fight, #4 Joshua would be the next option for Hrgovic, which would be an in-house fight for Matchroom Boxing, given that both guys are with Eddie Hearn.

The IBF’s decision to order Usyk-Hrgovic is bad news for Tyson Fury because he was hoping to face Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs) for the undisputed heavyweight championship in February or March of next year.

If Usyk has to face the huge 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Hrgovic (15-0, 13 KOs), he could lose that fight because the 6’6″ Croatian can punch, and he’d be a tough out for the smallish 221-lb Oleksandr.

Of course, Usyk could always vacate his IBF title, which is probably what he’ll do, but that would mean that his fight with Fury won’t be for the undisputed championship.

Really, without that tag, the Fury vs. Usyk fight loses much of the value that it had. I mean, there are more interesting fights out there for Fury to take against Joshua, for one, the rejuvenated Deontay Wilder and the Foreman-esque Joe Joyce. The money that Fury can make fighting Wilder, Joshua, or Joyce would likely be greater than would he’d make facing the two-belt Usyk.

If Usyk stubbornly takes the fight with Assuming Hrgoic, there’s an excellent chance he loses, which ruins everything.

Instead of Usyk fighting Fury for the undisputed, it would be Hrgovic, who isn’t well known to casual boxing fans in the U.S and the UK, and there would be less money to be made for the Gypsy King.

Further, Hrgovic would be a hard fight for Fury because of his power, size, and chin. The mauling style that Fury has been using to win his fights in the last three years wouldn’t be effective against Hrgovic because he’s huge, powerful, and utterly dangerous at close to medium range.

It’s a very dangerous fight for Fury because Hgovic is sturdy and capable of getting in the gutter and making it dirty if Tyson chooses to start with the rabbit punching, shoving & leaning tactics that he’s been using. If Fury wants to slop around in the mud with the dirty fighting, Hrgovic can more than match him with those tactics.

Hrgovic is coming off a narrow 12 round unanimous decision victory over the two-time Chinese Olympian Zhilei Zhang last August. The scores were very close for the bout, with Hrgovic winning: 115-112, 114-113, and 115-112.