Filip Hrgovic has not been able to entice Joseph Parker into a high-stakes heavyweight clash, his promoters have said, so his unusual search for an opponent will drag on.
Hrgovic has long been on the hunt for an opponent for an IBF final eliminator – the winner will become the mandatory challenger to the belt held by Oleksandr Usyk.
Luis Ortiz knocked out the IBF’s No 1 ranked contender ‘Prince’ Charles Martin but is unable to step into the ring with Hrgovic due to a hand injury.
Parker, the New Zealander who recently battered Derek Chisora, is the No 3 ranked contender and was instructed by the IBF to enter talks with Hrgovic – but Hrgovic’s promoters have said he has already pulled out.
“We weren’t given a reason,” Kalle Sauerland, who represents Hrgovic, told Sky Sports.
“The rankings become a mockery. We have gone through the rankings before.
“This isn’t about rejecting financial terms because fighters are rejecting us before we even discuss that. They are rejecting an opportunity to fight for the world title.
“All we can do is lobby the IBF to continue through the rankings as soon as possible or make Filip a direct mandatory.
“That is something we are pushing.
“The IBF need to act because it makes a mockery of their rankings.
“People should not be ranked if they have no intention of boxing for the title.”
What are the IBF rules?
Hrgovic is currently ranked at No 2, behind only Martin who lost by knockout last weekend to Ortiz.
Hrgovic must, in order of the rankings, enter negotiations with each contender until he strikes an agreement to fight.
The winner of a final eliminator would then later earn a mandatory shot at the IBF belt, which Usyk is set to defend against Anthony Joshua.
The IBF rankings
No 1 – ‘Prince’ Charles Martin. The former IBF champion, who lost the belt in 2016 to Joshua to become the second-shortest reigning holder ever, is not an option after losing to Ortiz.
No 2 – Filip Hrgovic. The undefeated Croatian is a 2016 Olympic bronze medallist and is undefeated in 14 pro fights with 12 KOs.
No 3 – Joseph Parker. The former WBO champion, who shone against Chisora, holds a lofty No 2 ranking with that governing body so may prioritise this avenue.
No 4 – Anthony Joshua. The former IBF, WBA and WBO champion will rematch Usyk in his next fight.
No 5 – Tony Yoka. The Frenchman, the 2016 Olympic gold medallist, is the next in line to officially enter talks with Hrgovic. He had a scheduled fight with Martin Bakole for this month cancelled due to Covid-19.
No 6 – Joe Joyce. Hrgovic’s promoter Kalle Sauerland said: “Joyce has other plans as [he is] highly rated elsewhere. Nothing but respect for Joe and it’s a great fight. Joe beat Filip nine years ago in the [amateurs] – so they know each other.”
No 7 – Agit Kabayel. The German is undefeated in 21 fights – he famously outpointed Chisora five years ago. He was considered for a fight with Tyson Fury last year which never materialised.
No 8 – Murat Gassiev. The former IBF and WBA cruiserweight champion has stepped up to heavyweight. His only defeat in 29 fights was against Usyk.
No 9 – Luis Ortiz. The 42-year-old Cuban announced a dramatic return by knocking out Martin. His manager told Sky Sports they would fight Hrgovic – but an injury has ruled Ortiz out.
No 10 – Andy Ruiz Jr. The first man to beat Joshua is ranked at No 3 by the WBC.
No 11 – Demsey McKean. The Australian southpaw is unbeaten in 20 and recently made a US debut after spending his career down under.
No 12 – Zhilei Zhang. The undefeated Chinese veteran is interested in fighting Hrgovic if the negotiations are right, his manager told Sky Sports.
No 13 – Hughie Fury. The younger cousin of Tyson Fury has once challenged for a world title, against Parker, and is prioritising chasing Chisora.
No 14 – Martin Bakole. The DR Congo-born and Scotland-based contender saw a fight with Yoka fall through this month. “Martin is contracted to box Yoka,” his manager Billy Nelson said.
Sky Sports Boxing schedule
Sunday January 30 – Top Rank in Tulsa
Robson Conceicao vs Xavier Martinez – WBC super-featherweight title eliminator
Saturday February 5 (targeted) – BOXXER in Cardiff
Chris Eubank Jr vs Liam Williams
Claressa Shields vs Ema Kozin – IBF, WBA and WBC middleweight titles
Sunday February 6 – Top Rank in Fresno
Jose Ramirez vs Jose Pedraza
Saturday February 19 – BOXXER in Manchester
Amir Khan vs Kell Brook
Saturday February 26 – BOXXER and Top Rank in Glasgow
Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall – undisputed super-lightweight titles
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