Featured image: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing.
The International Boxing Federation (IBF) have stated that the winner of a potential Tyson Fury versus Oleksandr Usyk fight will have to face Croatia’s Filip Hrgovic next, ESPN’s Mike Coppinger has reported.
Ukraine’s Usyk currently holds the IBF heavyweight title alongside the WBA and WBO versions while Fury holds the WBC title.
Promoters of both fighters announced that a potential showdown between the pair has now been signed with the fight targeted to take place in either December or early 2024 in Saudi Arabia.
Rematch clause could see a Hrgovic-Joshua showdown
ESPN however report that the deal includes a two-way rematch clause for both – meaning the IBF belt would then become vacant with Hrgovic and the next available challenger in the IBF rankings, with Britain’s Anthony Joshua currently ranked number one with the sanctioning body.
The latter surrendered the IBF, WBA and WBO titles with a unanimous decision defeat to Usyk in London in September 2021 before losing an immediate rematch eleven months later in Jeddah.
Joshua has since rebounded with two victories – going the distance with Jermaine Franklin in April before stopping Robert Helenius in round seven in August.
Hrgovic meanwhile stopped Demsey McKean in the twelfth-round to hand the Australian the first defeat of his professional career on the undercard of Joshua’s bout versus Helenius.
The 31-year-old edged a contentious unanimous decision over China’s Zhilei Zhang to cement his place as IBF mandatory challenger 12 months prior.
Fury set for Ngannou showdown later this month
Fury must first overcome boxing debutant and former MMA star Francis Ngannou on October 28th in Saudi Arabia before a bout with Usyk is confirmed.
The WBC heavyweight title won’t be on the line but should the Briton dispatch the former UFC champion as many expect him to, a bout with Usyk will crown the sport’s first undisputed champion in over two decades.
Fury tore the WBC belt from former champion Deontay Wilder with a dominant seven-round display in February 2022 before stopping the American in eleven rounds the following year.
Defences against mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte and former opponent Derek Chisora both ended inside the distance on home soil at football stadiums in the English capital.
Usyk meanwhile made the second defence of his titles since defeating Joshua with a seventh-round TKO of Britain’s Daniel Dubois in Poland two months ago.