Boxing-Winner of Hrgovic v Dubois could become IBF heavyweight champion

By Thomson Reuters May 31, 2024 | 10:59 AM

(Reuters) – The winner of Saturday’s heavyweight fight between IBF mandatory challenger Filip Hrgovic and Daniel Dubois could become world champion if Oleksandr Usyk relinquishes the belt or is stripped by the sanctioning body.

The BBC and talkSPORT reported on Friday that the contest had been “tentatively sanctioned” by the IBF to be for the interim heavyweight title.

The winner, if the interim title is confirmed, would then be upgraded should currently undisputed champion Usyk shed the IBF belt before a scheduled rematch with Tyson Fury in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in December.

Fury’s manager Frank Warren also represents fellow-Briton Dubois.

Croatia’s Hrgovic is unbeaten in 17 professional fights while Dubois has a record 20 wins and two defeats, including a loss to Ukrainian Usyk last August.

Usyk has requested an exemption from the U.S.-based IBF to defend his belt against Fury, whom he beat this month to become undisputed champion, rather than have to face Hrgovic first.

The BBC quoted the IBF saying it “does not have a timeline as to when the decision will be made on Usyk’s exception request.”

The IBF has previously stripped champions of titles for failing to fight mandatory opponents, with Fury losing a heavyweight belt in December 2015, 10 days after he took it from Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko.

Britain’s Lennox Lewis was also stripped of the IBF heavyweight belt in 2002.

“You really don’t want the belts to be fragmented, but you’ve got a guy (Hrgovic) who has been ordered ages ago and has been waiting and waiting and waiting,” said the Croatian’s promoter Eddie Hearn.

“Maybe the winner of that has AJ (Anthony Joshua) next in line for the IBF. You can’t ignore your mandatory challenger for two or three years.

“He (Hrgovic) is told, ‘You can’t get your title shot until the summer of 2025.’ It’s not fair. I get both sides of the argument, but I do expect the IBF belt to come vacant.”

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)