Michael Hunter and Filip Hrgovic can move forward with long discussed plans for a head-on collision.
An ordered IBF title eliminator between the pair of top-rated heavyweight contenders is due to make its way to the schedule in the near future. Eddie Hearn, head of Matchroom Boxing secured the promotional rights to the fight as the lone bidder during a purse bid hearing which was conducted Tuesday via Zoom from IBF headquarters in Springfield, New Jersey.
Hearn presented a bid of $606,666 for the contest. Hunter is entitled to the favorable end of a 60/40 split—$363999.60—as the higher-rated contender. The remaining $242,666.40 will go to Hrgovic, who is promoted by Wasserman Boxing which recently acquired Team Sauerland.
Plans for the bouts are still being sorted out, though expected to make its way to the boxing schedule in the near future.
“Announcement soon,” Hearn told BoxingScene.com in a brief text message exchange.
The title eliminator was first ordered by the IBF on Feb. 23rd, at which time both sides were ordered to enter a 30-day negotiation period. Early indications suggested a deal would be reached, only for talks to never progress. Team Sauerland requested a purse bid hearing—prior to merging with Wasserman—this past March on behalf of Hrgrovic (12-0, 10KOs), a 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist and current rising contender from Croatia. The request came prior to the end of the negotiation period, in compliance with IBF rules which allow either party of an ordered title fight or eliminator to call for a purse bid at any point during the allotted 30-day period.
The IBF responded, calling for an April 6 purse bid hearing. The session was postponed at the 11th hour, with both sides indicating that additional time could result in a deal being reached. A two-week delay didn’t help matters any, though resulting in a favorable payday for both sides while in pursuit of a title fight.
Hunter (19-1-1, 13KOs) is 7-0-1 since his lone career title fight, also resulting in his only loss as a pro. The 2012 U.S. Olympian and second-generation heavyweight contender came up short in a 12-round decision to then-WBO cruiserweight titlist Oleksandr Usyk in April 2017. The bout was Hunter’s last at cruiserweight, since moving up to heavyweight where he has established himself as one of the top contenders in the world.
In his most recent start, Las Vegas’ Hunter scored a 4th round knockout of Shawn Laughery last December in Galveston, Texas.
Hrgovic has been perfect since turning pro after his Bronze medal claim in the 2016 Rio Olympics. The 6’6” heavyweight is coming off of a 5th round stoppage of Rydell Booker last November in Hollywood, Florida, extending his current five-fight knockout streak.
The winner of the IBF heavyweight title eliminator will become one of three mandatory challengers in waiting to unified WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua.
The rotation system could leave said winner waiting out a title shot; Joshua (24-1, 22KOs) is coming off of a 9th round knockout of Kubrat Pulev last December to satisfy his IBF mandatory. The wildly popular Brit is currently eyeing an undisputed heavyweight championship showdown versus countryman Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 21KOs), the reigning lineal champion and WBC titlist.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox