By Jim Calfa: Andy Ruiz Jr. and Murat Gassiev have been offered by the IBF to take part in a heavyweight title eliminator against Filip Hrgovic to determine the mandatory challenger to champion Oleksandr Usyk. It’s believed that Gassiev may take the fight if he’s not injured.
The IBF has had rotten luck attempting to find a contender to face the unbeaten Croatian Hrgovic (14-0, 12 KOs). It’s taking way too long to find someone willing to face Hrgovic.
Dan Rafael is reporting the news of the International Boxing Federation offering title eliminator to former IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion ‘The Destroyer’ Ruiz (34-2, 22 KOs) and former IBF/WBA cruiserweight champion Gassiev (28-1, 21 KOs).
It’s expected that the 32-year-old Ruiz will immediately reject the idea of fighting the dangerous 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Hrgovic because it’s a risky fight, and he doesn’t need to fight in title eliminators for him to get another shot at a world title.
After ballooning up in weight following his loss in his rematch with Anthony Joshua in 2019, Ruiz has fought once, struggling to defeat 40-year-old Chris Arreola last May.
With the new trainer, Eddy Reynoso, A slimmer version of Ruiz was knocked down by Arreola in the second round, and was forced to labor to an unimpressive 12 round decision.
There are some boxing fans that believe that Ruiz’s punch resistance isn’t the same due to the huge weight loss that he’s undergone.
Ruiz made a ton of money in his two fights with Joshua, and his popularity is high in the U.S despite his poor showing against Arreola and in his rematch with AJ. He’s not going to blow that by fighting Hrgovic and potentially getting knocked out.
The growing list of heavyweights the IBF has attempted to face Hrgovic in their title eliminator:
- Tony Yoka
- Luis ‘King Kong’ Ortiz
- Joseph Parker
Per source, the IBF has gone down its rankings again and has now offered Andy Ruiz and Murat Gassiev the opportunity to negotiate with Hrgovic camp for spot in the heavyweight title eliminator to become mandatory. They have until Friday or the hunt will continue. #boxing
— Dan Rafael (@DanRafael1) January 26, 2022
Assuming that Gassiev and Ruiz both balk at the idea of fighting Hrgovic in the IBF’s title eliminator, the next up in the sanctioning bodies’ ranking:
12. Demsey McKean
13. Zhang Zhilei
14. Hughie Fury
15. Martin Bakole
Yoka and Bakole are under contract to fight, so it’s safe to say that he’s not a viable option for the IBF to ask to face Hrgovic.
The eventual winner of the IBF title eliminator won’t be getting a title shot in 2022 anyway, as the current champion Oleksandr Usyk will be facing either Joshua or Tyson Fury next.
Depending on whether Joshua agrees to a step aside deal the Fury-Usyk winner will face him next. That leaves the winner of the IBF title eliminator to wait until 2023 before they get their eventual shot at the world title.