By Jim Calfa: Filip Hrgovic says an offer will be made to Luis ‘King Kong’ Ortiz to face him in an IBF heavyweight title eliminator within the next three days.
Assuming the powerful Cuban Ortiz accepts the offer from the IBF, Hrgovic wants their fight to take place in March or April, with the winner to be mandatory for champion Oleksandr Usyk.
The 6’6″ 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Hrgovic says he’s confident he can beat the aging Ortiz.
The unbeaten #2 IBF Hrgovic (14-0, 12 KOs) states that he’s hoping the 42-year-old Ortiz has the “courage” to accept the offer because he wants to send him into “retirement.”
Ortiz (33-2, 28 KOs) looked shaky at times last Saturday night in getting dropped twice by 35-year-old Charles Martin (28-3-1, 25 KOs) before coming back to stop him in the sixth round in a thrilling ending in Hollywood, Florida.
Filip hopes 2022 will be better
In 2021, the 29-year-old ‘El Animal’ Hrgovic fought twice, beating little-known second-tier heavyweights Emir Ahmatovic and Marko Radonjic. Hrgovic had hoped to fight Michael Hunter in an IBF title eliminator, but the American pulled out of the contest.
“I hope 2022 will be better. It was not such a great year because we had so much delay in the negotiations,” said Filip Hrgovic to Wasserman Boxing.
“I should have fought in March or April, and I finished fighting for the first time in September,” said Hrgovic.
“It was a lot of things that happened, starting with Michael Hunter, who pulled out of the fight. Then we were looking for a new opponent for months and months.
“All the time, I was in training camp. It was exhausting, but yeah, the year finished pretty good. I had two fights in a few months, and it was not huge wins, but it was good decent wins, and I stayed undefeated.
“Like I said, I’m looking forward to a better 2022. You could see that he [Michael Hunter] was avoiding me. He didn’t want to fight with me, and now you see the reason.
“If he fought with me, I would knock him out,” said Hrgovic sounding still annoyed about Hunter pulling out of their fight. “It was not some smart business move on why he pulled out of the fight.
“It’s just that he’s not on my level. He knows that. I don’t know what will happen, but I’m ready for anyone. But I think no one with my team will go into negotiations with Michael Hunter.
“I think it’s hard that fight to happen, but you never know. Yes, of course, I watched,” said Hrgovic when asked if he watched the Luis Ortiz vs. Charles Martin fight.
“It was a good exciting fight, and it was also a good undercard. I watched all the fights, and it was a good event. I’m happy. I was waiting for the winner, and we have the winner now,” Hrgovic said.
It would have been interesting to see Hrgovic and Hunter square off. The 2019 version of Hunter would have given Hrgovic something to think about, but Michael looked poor in his last fight against Jerry Forrest last December.
Hrgovic waiting for Luis Ortiz to accept offer
Luis Ortiz’s management at PBC will likely reject the offer to fight Hrgovic because it’s too risky, particularly after the performance by the Cuban fighter Martin.
We’ll likely see a fight between Ortiz being matched against Andy Ruiz Jr. for the IBF title eliminator if Andy doesn’t get picked by WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
“I hope in the next few days that Ortiz will accept the offer from the IBF, and I can start my preparation, and we can have a fight in maybe March or April,” said Hrgovic.
“Yeah, I’m definitely confident that I can beat Luis Ortiz. I respect him. He had a great career, he’s a good fighter, but now it’s time for retirement.
“I’m ready to send him into retirement, a well-deserved retirement, and I’m really confident I can beat him in great fashion.
“I think it was a message for me,” said Hrgovic when told that Ortiz said after his fight last Saturday that the other heavyweights must go through him if they want a shot at the heavyweight title.
“I’m the first in the line for that IBF eliminator. Yeah, I hope that he [Luis Ortiz] stays in that mindset because he has three days to accept the offer, and then we have, I don’t know, ten days.
“I hope he stays in that mindset, and we can make the fight. I’m looking forward,” said Hrgovic.
Stone Man targeting Frank Sanchez
That would be impressive seeing Hrgovic take on Frank Sanchez next because his trainer Eddy Reynoso and gym-mate Canelo Alvarez have been talking about their belief that he can win a heavyweight title in 12 months.
If Sanchez is as good as Canelo and Reynoso say, he should beat Hrgovic. Either way, it’ll be a fun fight for the boxing fans to watch this compelling fight.
Look, in my amateur career, I beat three Cubans by KO,” said Hrgovic. “So, I’m looking forward to putting a fourth Cuban on my list; Frank Sanchez will be the fifth Cuban that I will beat.
“Yeah, I’m just good with Cubans. Like I said, I beat three of them in amateurs by KO. So, I will just continue to do that in the amateurs.
“Yeah, it surprised me because I thought Joshua would beat him,” said Hrgovic when asked about his thoughts on Oleksandr Usyk beating Anthony Joshua last September.
“I didn’t like Usyk’s performances in the heavyweight division because I didn’t like his performances against [Dereck] Chisora and [Chazz Witherspoon.
“I thought he [Usyk] didn’t have enough power for the heavyweights, but he showed the opposite, and he beat Joshua. Yeah, it was a surprise to me.
“Yeah, I’m open. I would really like to fight all these top heavyweights; Usyk, Joshua, or Fury; I don’t care. I will just want to fight the best in the division.
“So, yes, hopefully, I win this IBF eliminator [against Luis Ortiz], and then I’m waiting for my shot.
“Then it will maybe be Usyk, Joshua, or who knows? Maybe they will first go for a unification with Tyson Fury, and then I get a chance to fight against the winner,” said Filip.
Will Ortiz accept the offer?
It’s questionable whether Ortiz will accept the offer to fight Hrgovic because his performance against Martin wasn’t strong enough.
If Ortiz had blown out Martin in one round as he did against Alexandr Flores in November 2020, his management would probably readily agree to put him in with Hrgovic, but that’s not the case.
“There are a lot of different scenarios, but definitely it’ll be a great time for the heavyweight division and great time for me,” said Hrgovic. “Yeah, I don’t want to think too much about possible options.
“I learned last year with this business of boxing that everything can go wrong, and you never know what is going to happen. For me, it’s just important to stay in good shape and stay relaxed.
“Don’t worry too much because it’s a long journey, and I’ll be fighting for the next ten years, hopefully. I cannot break my head too much and think and be nervous. One step at a time is to win the IBF eliminator fight, so let’s see what is after that.
“We’ll see what’s going on. Does Luis Ortiz have the courage to face me, and if he does, it’ll be a great fight. I’m looking forward,” said Hrgovic.