Filip Hrgovic finally found a heavyweight to fight, though didn’t let him stick around long enough to enjoy the moment.
The 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist and Top 10 heavyweight contender from Croatia overwhelmed Montenegro’s Marko Radonjic in a fourth-round stoppage win. Hrgovic scored five knockdowns before the fight was halted in the opening seconds of round four Friday evening at Worthersee Stadium in Klagenfurt, Austria.
Hrgovic played with his food in the opening round, pawing with his jab in looking to set up his booming right hand. Radonjic was valiant if overmatch, winging wild overhand lefts from the southpaw stance and never coming close to finding their mark.
The massive gap in skill level was evident in a lopsided round two. Hrgovic produced the first knockdown of the night, courtesy of a short right hand. Radonjic flopped to the canvas but somehow peeled himself off the deck in time to beat the count.
Radonjic would have to do so another three times in the round, though managing to make it to the bell. A combination from Hrgovic along the ropes produced the second knockdown, with a right hand sending him to the canvas moments later. Radonjic had the end of the round within his sights before a left hook to the body produced the fourth knockdown of the frame. He once again made it to his feet and to the bell.
Hrgovic scored his fifth knockdown of the night, courtesy of a chopping right hand upstairs and a left hook to the body. Radonjic wasn’t done, however, beating the count and putting up a brave stand before making his way back to the corner.
The one-minute rest period suggested the fight would see round four. The opening bell sounded, only for the referee to immediately stop the contest once Radonjic’s corner wouldn’t rescue their charge.
Radonjic falls to 22-1 (22KOs), as he’s yet to fight beyond the fourth round as a pro.
Hrgovic advances to 13-0 (11KOs) with the win. The tougher fight will be to find a willing challenger for a title eliminator.
The unbeaten Croatian spent a considerable portion of the year hoping for a title eliminator with Michael Hunter II to materialize. The IBF-ordered bout went to a purse bid hearing, with Eddie Hearn and Wasserman Boxing of the belief that the fight would make its way to the summer schedule. Hunter—a second-generation heavyweight and member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team—didn’t like the terms and called an audible, taking a stay-busy fight this past August.
Hrgovic remains the number-four contender to the IBF heavyweight title currently held by Anthony Joshua, the unified WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO titlist who next faces WBO mandatory Oleksandr Usyk. The likely course of action for Hrgovic will be to again go down the list of IBF challengers in search of a willing participant to fight for the number-one spot.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox