If it was the WBC, they’d just throw a “new madeup secondary, third, or fourth title” around someone’s waist. But the IBF has put the ball now in the fighter’s courts. But who jumps at offer first?
Make no mistake though, they’d like to just put a belt on Filip Hrgovic. But they’re having problems getting someone to fight him. And it’s not hard to see why. The undefeated Croatian is a hard hitting, still well under the radar fighter.
The fact that he’s still under 30-years old means theoretically he still has lots and lots left in the tank. And in fairness the opponent that would be absolutely crazy to watch him fight is in limbo right now. DEONTAY WILDER. Sure, that could end badly, but “El Animal” is more than just “pop” in his hands. He’s footwork and speed too. A lot less than Tyson Fury yes, however; it would give Wilder the look of Fury, especially if he has any interest in a fourth dance with him.
But that’s neither here nor there. The two fighters given the chance to fight one another, to be Hrgovic’s next opponent in an eliminator to one day face Oleksandr Usyk (if he’s still champion) are Andy Ruiz and Murat Gassiev. And that crack most likely wouldn’t happen till the mid to end of 2023 if they’re lucky.
Who Jumps At Offer Between The Two
Ruiz doesn’t “need” that fight per se. He does need something though. Now that Eddy Reynoso has him locked in, thinner and serious, the quick punches in bunches style might frustrate Hrgovic. But it’s his name recognition thanks again to the knock out of Anthony Joshua that’ll always keep him on the extreme short list of title contenders. This would be a definite landmine fight for him, tough, but winnable.
Add in that with his name he could get just about any fight he’d want right now. And should Joshua take walk-away money; those two could have their trilogy, making a lot more money.
Gassiev on the other hand, has had six-fights cancelled since going to the score cards against Usyk. Including breaking his arm in training for his last fight. He NEEDS a fight, so this might be his best bet, as long as the arm’s healed. He’s always had power so the injury might take something out of it. But since he started training at Big Bear, his gas tank has improved. Something he’d absolutely need against Hrgovic.
The IBF continues to add names to their list like Joseph Parker and Luis Ortiz; but that’s like feeding a lamb to a lion. While it may not be a “marquee fight” Gassiev is the best choice. With it being still only January, having it done by December should not be out of the question.