By Jim Calfa: Tony Yoka has been ruled out by the IBF for their heavyweight title eliminator against Filip Hrgovic because he was under contract with Martin Bakole.
Dan Rafael reports that the IBF has ruled that Yoka won’t be able to compete in the eliminator against the the29-year-old Hrgovic because he’s still under contract for a fight with Bakole.
Next up in the IBF’s rankings as a potential opponent for ‘El Animal’ Hrgovic (14-0, 12 KOs) is 2016 Olympic super heavyweight silver medalist Joe Joyce from the UK.
Joe Joyce is not likely to accept the IBF offer
It’s improbable that Joyce will accept the offer to face Hrgovic because he’s already ranked #1 with the WBO, and he’s coming off a wrist injury. Hrgovic wants to fight as soon as possible, but that won’t be possible to fight with Joyce because of his injury.
Joyce would have been an exciting choice to face Hrgovic, as he matches him in height, power and has already beaten him years ago in 2012.
Of course, that was when Joyce was younger, more mobile, and not as heavy as he is now. With Joyce’s strong chin and his continuous pressure, he could, in theory, wear down Hrgovic in a 12 round fight to get the victory.
Again, it’s unlikely Joyce will take the fight due to his injury and his #1 ranking with the WBO. There’s no point in Joyce facing Hrgovic for the #1 spot with the IBF when he’s already in the position to challenge for the title against champion Oleksandr Usyk with the WBO.
Given that he was under contract for a fight against the 28-year-old Bakole (17-1, 13 KOs), unclear why Yoka (11-0, 9 KOs) chose to accept the offer by the International Boxing Federation to face Hrgovic in a title eliminator.
Whatever the case, Yoka, 29, is now out of the picture for the IBF’s title eliminator, and the sanctioning body is expected to ask the next contender in their rankings.
Frank Sanchez could be next for Hrgovic
Interestingly, the next two highest-ranked contenders in the IBF’s rankings, #4 Luis Ortiz and #5 Joseph Parker, have already declined the offer to face Hrgovic in a title eliminator. As such, the likely next fighter to be asked will be undefeated Frank Sanchez.
The talented Cuban Sanchez (20-0, 13 KOs) would be a hard fight for the 6’6″Hrgovic because of his mobility, counter-punching, and hand speed. Hrgovic has become accustomed to fighting older heavyweights that stood right before him.
Since turning pro in 2017, the Croatian heavyweight Hrgovic has fought many older heavyweights in their late 30s, and he hasn’t had to deal with a mobile fighter like Frank Sanchez (20-0, 13 KOs).
That would be a tough fight for Hrgovic because he’s robotic and fights in a mechanical way that lacks any fluidity.
As a pro, virtually all of Hrgovic’s opponents have stood stationary directly in front of him, making it easy for him to club them with his downward punches.
Hrgovic’s punches tend to land to the back of his opponent’s heads. Those rabbit shots won’t land against Sanchez because he won’t stand in front of the Hrgovic like his past opponents.
If Sanchez rejects the fight with Hrgovic, the remaining heavyweights in the top 15 that will be asked one by one are as follows:
7. Michael Hunter
8. Agit Kabayel
9. Filip Hrgovic
10. Arslanbek Makhmudov
11. Tony Yoka
12. Dereck Chisora
13. Robert Helenius
14. Martin Bakole
15. Charles Martin
Per source, IBF issued letter to both camps determining @TonyYoka is unavailable for eliminator vs. @Filip_Hrgovic for mandatory position because of dispute between Yoka camp and Martin Bakole on if he owes him a rescheduled date. IBF will go down ratings yet again. #boxing
— Dan Rafael (@DanRafael1) January 21, 2022
Hrgovic’s last six opponents: