Filip Hrgovic is one of the most feared (and avoided) heavyweight boxers around, but it appears he should face a big-name opponent in his next fight.
The 31-year-old Croatian star is the mandatory contender for the IBF world title currently held by Oleksandr Usyk. But with the Ukrainian otherwise engaged in that unification saga vs Tyson Fury (now rescheduled for May 18), ‘El Animal’ must bide his time for a title shot.
Hrgovic made his case to step in for the injured Fury when ‘The Gypsy King’ was forced by a ‘freak cut’ to pull out of that initial February 17 date vs Usyk. No dice though, and instead he must ‘make do’ with a slot on the Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou undercard in Riyadh on March 8.
That Joshua vs Ngannou undercard is already a beauty with Joseph Parker vs Zhilei Zhang providing a second heavyweight blockbuster. Now it appears we will get a third with Hrgovic slated to appear.
Last weekend Turki Alalshikh – Chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority – revealed there are six fighters all in with a chance of fighting Hrgovic on March 8. And every one would make for a fascinating matchup. So who are they?
Hrgovic next fight – potential opponents
Exciting British heavyweight who was stopped by Usyk last August in his first heavyweight title challenge. Returned in December with an excellent performance to stop Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller in the final round of their all-action slugfest on that ‘Day of Reckoning’ card in Riyadh. Called out Hrgovic this week, once again saying he’s ‘The Daddy’ (insert emoji of choice)….
Jarrell Miller (26-1-1)
Best known of course for failing multiple drug tests to scupper his planned world heavyweight title challenge vs Anthony Joshua in the summer of 2019. Returned from his ban to reel of three wins before suffering his first defeat at the hands of Dubois. Has his limitations but possesses an incredible chin and a Hrgovic match would be hugely entertaining.
Agit Kabayel (24-0)
Germany’s European heavyweight champion was quite simply a revelation on that ‘Day of Reckoning’ card, coping with everything the unbeaten Russian giant Arslanbek Makhmudov could throw at him. Once he had weathered the early storm Kabayel unleashed the perfect gameplan to dismantle Makhmudov – blasting him to the body to open up the head. Terrific stuff and we’d love him to fight Hrgovic – intriguing clash of styles.
Frank Sanchez (24-0)
Cuban slickster who is technically brilliant but sometimes can be frustrating for the casual fan. Really is a fighter the purists will love with his speed and boxing IQ. He would present a real mental challenge for Hrgovic, who without doubt is technically inferior. Could ‘El Animal’ get to Sanchez?
Jared Anderson (16-0)
This might be the most exciting matchup of all, and potentially the most dangerous for Hrgovic. Anderson has yet to be really tested at the highest level but the Top Rank prospect appears to have it all – speed and power. Would Bob Arum and co risk him against Hrgovic just yet?
Martin Bakole (20-1)
On paper potentially the least exciting or marketable opponent for Hrgovic, but this would absolutely carry a level of danger for the big Croatian. Like a Miller match, we should expect plenty of action and both chins being thoroughly tested if it happens.
Whatever happens on March 8, assuming Hrgovic goes get a slot on the card, he should face a meaningful opponent. His last outing – that one-round demolition of the overmatched Mark De Mori in December – told us absolutely nothing. He, and the boxing world, demand better.