Filip Hrgovic and Zhang Zhilei will have most of the boxing world watching when they fight to become the IBF’s mandatory challenger for its unbeaten heavyweight champion, Oleksandr Usyk. has learned that the 12-round IBF elimination match between Croatia’s Hrgovic and China’s Zhilei will be the co-feature before four-division champion Canelo Alvarez challenges WBA light heavyweight champ Dmitry Bivol on May 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. DAZN will stream Alvarez-Bivol, Hrgovic-Zhilei and other bouts to be determined as part of that streaming service’s inaugural pay-per-view event, which will cost subscribers $59.99 and non-subscribers $79.99.

Hrgovic (14-0, 12 KOs), a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, is the IBF’s third-ranked contender. Zhilei (23-0-1, 18 KOs), who won a silver medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and lost to British gold medalist Anthony Joshua at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, is ranked 13th by the IBF.

The 38-year-old Zhilei and fifth-rated Frenchman Tony Yoka were the only two of the nine IBF-ranked heavyweights approached who were willing to enter negotiations with Hrgovic’s co-promoters, Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing and Wasserman Boxing, for this title eliminator. Yoka (11-0, 9 KOs) has since committed to a fight with Scotland’s Martin Bakole (17-1, 13 KOs), which was rescheduled from January 15 to May 21 at Accor Arena in Paris.

Seven other heavyweights declined the IBF’s invitation to negotiate for an elimination match with Hrgovic’s handlers due to injuries, scheduling conflicts or other reasons. Matchroom and Wasserman won an IBF purse bid February 24 with a joint offer of $650,000.

Hgrovic is entitled to 60 percent, or $390,000, because he is the higher-ranked contender. Zhilei’s side will receive $260,000, or 40 percent of the winning bid.

The 6-foot-6, 247-pound Hrgovic has won seven consecutive bouts by knockout or technical knockout. He most recently stopped Germany’s Emir Ahmatovic (11-1, 8 KOs) in the third round December 4 on the Devin Haney-Joseph Diaz Jr. undercard at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Two fights ago, Zhilei knocked down American veteran Jerry Forrest once apiece in the first, second and third rounds. An extremely fatigued Zhilei let Forrest back into their fight, though, struggled down the stretch and settled for a 10-round majority draw on the Alvarez-Avni Yildirim undercard in February 2021 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

The 6-foot-6, 274-pound Zhilei won his only fight since his draw with Forrest (26-4-2, 20 KOs) on November 27. The strong southpaw stopped Craig Lewis (14-5-1, 8 KOs) in the second round that night on the Teofimo Lopez-George Kambosos Jr. undercard at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.