Two of the top heavyweight contenders will have more time to figure out a way to meet in the ring.
An extended negotiation period has been granted for the IBF title eliminator between Michael Hunter II and Filip Hrgovic, sanctioning body officials confirmed to BoxingScene.com on Tuesday. The bout was due to serve as the subject of a purse bid hearing to have been held Tuesday afternoon, with both sides requesting more time in hopes of reaching a deal.
“The rescheduled date will be announced at a later time if necessary,” noted the sanctioning body to all IBF-registered promoters, a copy of which has been obtained by BoxingScene.com.
The bout was first ordered by the New Jersey-based sanctioning body on Feb. 23, at the time accompanied with a 30-day negotiation period. Both sides were initially optimistic of a deal being reached, only for talks to ultimately hit a wall.
Team Sauerland—having since merged with Wasserman to form Wasserman Boxing—requested a purse bid hearing on behalf of Hrgovic (12-0, 10KOs), a 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist from Croatia. As per sanctioning body rules, either side of an ordered fight can call for a purse bid hearing during any point in negotiations, particularly if either party feels that progress is not being made.
The IBF accommodated such a request, assigning a purse bid hearing for April 6, to have been held via Zoom conference call and conducted from its headquarters in Springfield, New Jersey.
Instead, the session was called off upon indication that additional time could likely result in a deal being reached.
Had the bout gone to purse bid, Hunter (19-1-1, 13KOs) would be entitled to the favorable end of a 60/40 split of the winning purse bid amount as the higher ranked contender. Hunter—a second-generation boxer from Las Vegas whose late father Mike ‘The Bounty’ Hunter was a mid-level contender in the 1980s and 1990s—is ranked number-four by the IBF. Hrgovic is currently ranked number-five.
A fight between Hunter and Hrgovic will determine the IBF mandatory challenger for England’s Joshua, who is still on course for an undisputed heavyweight championship clash with countryman and lineal/WBC champ Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 21KOs). Rumors of such an event have been teased for nearly a year, with daily updates suggesting a venue on the verge of being secured—only for final confirmation to never materialize.
Hunter and Hrgovic are both coming off of knockout wins.
Hrgovic finished off Detroit’s Rydell Booker inside of five round last November in Hollywood, Florida to pick up his fifth consecutive stoppage win.
Hunter stopped Shawn Loughery inside of four rounds last December in Galveston, Texas. The bout ended a year-long inactive stretch following a 12-round draw with Alexander Povetkin in Dec. 2019.
With the sanctioned eliminator officially ordered, neither boxer can accept an interim fight.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox