by Jack Ternan: Heavyweight Zhilei Zhang has accepted a spot to face Filip Hrgovic in the IBF title removal to become the mandatory challenger to Oleksandr Usyk.
Dan Rafael reports that 38-year-old Chinese Olympian Zhang (23-0-1, 18 KOs) has agreed to face the unbeaten Hergovic (14-0, 12 points) in the FIFA title elimination. However, the two still needed to negotiate their fight.
Usually, Hergovic hits his punches on his shorter opponents, but in this case, his shots will be in a straight line. Of course, this is assuming that Hergovic won’t hit Zhang in the back of the head with rabbit punches all night long. If you watch Hergovic’s fights, he tends to strike rabbits.
The International Fighters Federation had previously asked these fighters to confront Hrgovic:
- Luis Ortiz
- Joseph Parker
- Tony Yuka
- Joe Joyce
- tribal law
- Andy Ruiz Jr.
- Murad Gassiev
- Dempsey McCain
In fairness to many of these fighters, they were injured and weren’t ready to jump into the ring to face Hergovic by April for the IBF Championship title.
Zhang could not bear to refuse to fight
In the case of Parker and Ruiz, they’re famous enough fighters that they don’t need to compete in the title contender for little money against Hrgovic.
They would have done Hergovic fair by fighting him because he would have had a chance to defeat men known in the United States and throughout the world.
The downside to Zhang and Hrgovic’s fight to the IBF title eliminator is that the winner will need to wait until 2023 before taking the title against anyone holding the IBF title by that point.
However, the chances of Zhang or Hrgovic getting the title through the voluntary process were almost non-existent because they weren’t popular enough to be worth fighting unless one of the champions felt the desperate need of a rival.
It’s no surprise that Zhang, the 13th-ranked FIFA contender, would agree to fight with Hrgovic, given that his chances of winning the title yet are relatively low. At least by fighting Hergovic, Zhang has as small a chance as it is.
It’s good that someone has finally come forward to take the fight against the 29-year-old Hrgovic because they need to get rid of the FIFA title. There was a lot of fuss generated from fighting against 6’6″ Hrgovic, which made him even better than him.
Hergovic was a good amateur fighter, but lost when he faced top heavyweights like Joe Joyce and Tony Yuka. His problem is that he’s too mechanistic, and the heavier weightlifter has taken advantage of this flaw in his game to work around it.
Zhang drew a lot of criticism for his performance in a 10-round draw against runner Jerry Forrest last February. He made Forrest look like a great heavyweight, which he isn’t. In that fight, Zhang struggled in the subsequent rounds and reportedly became severely dehydrated.
Hergovic will be greatly favored
Hergovic would easily take care of Zhang due to his superior strength and knockout ability. If Chang can hit and go, it will give Hergovic a run for his money as he is by no means a big heavyweight.
According to the source, Zhang Zhilei accepted the position to negotiate the IBF Heavyweight Championship against Filip Hrgovic for the right to become a mandatory challenger to Usyk.
Negotiations are underway. Demsey McKean was ranked ahead of Zhang and was also offered the opportunity but he turned it down. Dan Raphael said Twitter.
“Before Zhang accepted, those who had the opportunity to face Hergovic in disqualification were Luis Ortiz, Joseph Parker, Tony Yoka, Joe Joyce, Ajit Kabayle, Andy Ruiz, Murat Gasseff and Demsey McCain.
“If he goes to try to buy (unlikely, given Matchroom is involved with both fighters), Hrgovic gets a better 60-40.”