Index.hr reports that Zhang Zhilei has accepted to fight Filip Hrgović. Zhilei, the 12th boxer according to the IBF, has agreed to enter the ring with the undefeated Croat. The best 11 fighters according to the IBF rankings refused to fight Hrgović before him. The offer finally reached the 38-year-old Chinese boxer. The winner of the fight becomes the IBF heavyweight mandatory challenger.
Zhang recorded his 23rd victory in his 24th professional career fight in November. He celebrated against the American Craig Lewis with a break in the second round and called out Hrgović. “As long as you think you’re good, come. Hrgović is a young and motivated boxer, but for me, he’s a baby,” said Zhang, who is nine years older than Hrgović.
“Try to get a little faster because otherwise, it won’t be an interesting fight. Just be a little faster. If you are slow as usual, the match will be boring,” Hrgović replied.
At the same time as Zhang, the offer was received by Australian boxer Demsey McKean, who is one place ahead of the Chinese boxer. McKean refused to fight Hrgović, and Zhang asked for an additional 24 hours to reconsider and finally accepted the IBF’s offer. Recall, before this, Hrogović was rejected by Tony Yoka, Luis Ortiz, and Joseph Parker.
At the end of last year, Hrgović reached his 14th victory in the same number of professional fights.
The winner of this IBF Final Eliminator fight will have the opportunity to box for the IBF champion belt. However, when that will take place is not yet clear because this belt is held by Oleksandr Usik who will fight Joshua first, and then await Tyson Fury, and so on.
Journalist Dan Rafael reports that the fight could take place in Europe as one of the introductory clashes ahead of the title fight between Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua.
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