LAS VEGAS – Filip Hrgovic continues to beat on the opposition placed in front of him while on the hunt for far stiffer competition.
The rising contender has now scored back-to-back third round knockouts over unbeaten heavyweights, the latest coming versus undefeated but overmatched Emir Ahmatovic. Hrgovic scored two knockdowns in round two and another in round three, the latter prompting an immediate stoppage at 0:30 of round three in their DAZN-televised bout Saturday evening at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Hrgovic fully expected to be participating in a title eliminator by this point. The opponent he targeted was Michael Hunter II opted to head in a different direction and was considered fortunate in fighting to a draw with Jerry Forrest in their December 2 rematch.
Eager to remain active, Hrgovic settled for his second consecutive unbeaten though unheralded heavyweight. Ahmatovic —a 34-year-old Serb based out of Germany—made his U.S. debut in accepting the fight, tasting Hrgovic’s power early and often. Ahmatovic was not without his moments, taking Hrgovic’s right hands and offering just enough head movement to avoid the most damaging blows, while enjoying brief success with his own straight right.
An adjustment made by Hrgovic compromise Ahmatovic’s ability to proper defend himself in round two. The 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist from Zagreb, Croatia smothered his foe, crashing home right hand body shots and then bringing the attack upstairs. Ahmatovic finally broke, eating a straight right hand to send him to the canvas with less than 0:45 to go in round two. Ahmatovic beat the count but was back on the deck inside of the final ten seconds, once again rising to his feet and making it out of the round.
Hrgovic refused to allow that to happen again. A long left hand kept Ahmatovic in place for Hrgovic to crash him a right hand upstairs which had him rocked. Ahmatovic (10-1, 7KOs) ducked both ends of a combination, only for a final right hand and left hook to send him to the canvas, with referee Allen Huggins waving off the bout.
The win marks the seventh consecutive knockout for Hrgovic (14-0, 12KOs), who will continue to press co-promoters Matchroom Boxing and Wasserman Boxing to upgrade the competition. The strong suggestion from both parties is that a title eliminator is in store for the first half of 2022.
Hrgovic-Ahmatovic served as part of a five-fight DAZN telecast headlined by the lightweight title consolidation clash between WBC World lightweight titlist Haney (26-0, 15KOs) and WBC interim title claimant Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz (32-1-1, 15KOs).
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox