By John “Gutterdandy” Walker
The stalled career of promising heavyweight Filip Hrgovic of Croatia took another unfortunate turn today, when the heavyweight giant pulled out of an IBF Eliminator with China’s Zhang Zhilei scheduled for the undercard of the Canelo Alvarez vs Dimitry Bivol Pay-Per-View clash at the T-Mobile Arena this Saturday in Las Vegas.
The massive Hrgovic (14-0, 12 KOs), often called the most avoided fighter in boxing, had run through a list of top heavyweight contenders who, for one reason or another, had all decided to forgo a shot at the IBF eliminator that would put the victor in place for a title shot against the winner of the upcoming rematch between former champion Anthony Joshua of the UK and current unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine.
The fight would have pitted 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Hrgovic, 29, against 2008 Olympic silver medalist Zhang, 39, and the Croatian heavyweight had expressed delight that Zhang was willing to take him on. Now, however, Hrgovic is back in boxing’s twilight zone, as Zhang (23-0-1, 18 KOs), not thrilled at the idea of wasting an entire training camp, seeks a fighter willing to step in for the Croatian.
Still unconfirmed rumors have it that Hrgovic’s father passed away early in April, and that the fighter has been unable to focus on training camp to his satisfaction, leading to this very late withdrawal from the upcoming fight. IBF rules state that the elimination match must be rescheduled for a later date, but boxing promoter Eddie Hearn is currently seeking to accommodate Zhang’s desire to fight on Saturday by securing a last-minute replacement for Hrgovic.
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