With its mandatory contender position vacant, the IBF is trying to set up a final heavyweight eliminator. IBF #3 ranked Filip Hrgović (14-0, 12 KOs) is already locked in as one of the participants. Contenders Luis Ortiz and Joseph Parker, both of whom are fresh off big wins, have passed on the opportunity. The IBF will continue to go down its rankings in order until one of the contenders agrees to fight Hrigovic. Undefeated heavyweight Zhang “Big Bang” Zhilei (23-0-1, 18 KOs) currently sitting at IBF #13 says he’s willing to take the fight.
“I don’t understand why top heavyweights are turning this down,” said the former Olympic silver medal winner. “Hrgovic is no boogeyman. I’ve made it known that if my name comes up, I’ll step up and take it.”
And if a showdown with Hrigovic does not materialize, the 38-year-old Zhang is ready for any of the big names.
“I’m not getting any younger, and I have told my promoter that I want to make a big move,” said Zhang, listing off of top heavyweights such as Joseph Parker and Dereck Chisora – all of whom share the same promoter, Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom.
“My ultimate goal is to become world champion and I need fights that put me on that path. I will fight anyone. I want a big opportunity and all I am asking for is fair compensation. I am ready now.”