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Heavyweight mandatory challenger Hrgovic adds heavy hitters to team
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Heavyweight contender Filip Hrgovic, who is on the doorstep of a world title shot, had added to his team in preparation for bigger fights, exposure and money.
Hrgovic has brought on Keith Connolly as his adviser and Greg Smith as his attorney, they told Fight Freaks Unite on Tuesday.
“I’m excited about being added to Team Hrgovic and I look forward to adding value to his career and guiding him towards a heavyweight title in the near future,” said Connolly, who was voted the 2019 Boxing Writers Association of America manager of the year.
Connolly also works with unbeaten super middleweight Edgar Berlanga, former middleweight titlist Daniel Jacobs, heavyweight Adam Kownacki and blue-chip lightweight prospect Marc Castro among others.
Smith, whose main boxing client is undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez, said he was also looking forward to working with Hrgovic.
“Filip is a good fighter and a great guy,” Smith said. “After a decorated amateur career he has risen to the top of his division in only a few fights, but he hasn’t yet been in the kind of marquee fights that make the public know his name. I’m proud that Filip has trusted me to be part of the team to help get him to that next level.”
Hrgovic (15-0, 12 KOs), 30, who was a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist for his native Croatia, earned his position as the IBF mandatory challenger with a hard-fought unanimous decision over Chinese southpaw Zhang Zhilei in a punishing fight in August on the Oleksandr Usyk-Anthony Joshua II undercard in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Hrgovic, who is trained by Ronnie Shields in Houston, handed Zhang his first loss in the title eliminator, 115-112, 115-112 and 114-113. Hrgovic overcome a first-round knockdown from a right hook to win and become one of the mandatory challengers for three-belt titlist Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs).
Hrgovic has not fought since that fight. In January, Usyk was ordered by the IBF to face him next but that was done so in error and the order was rescinded because it turned out that the WBA mandatory was due next in the rotation system used when there are unified titleholders.
So, Usyk next plans to face WBA mandatory challenger Daniel Dubois, a fight that was formally ordered this week following the collapse of talks for an undisputed title fight between WBC/lineal champion Tyson Fury and Usyk.
Usyk-Dubois is supposed to take place this summer. Hrgovic’s shot would be due after that, so potentially by the end of the year. Whether Hrgovic will fight before that is unclear.
In January, the IBF agreed to sanction an interim heavyweight title bout between Hrgovic and former unified titlist Andy Ruiz Jr. However, the sides were unable to make a deal and Ruiz eventually notified the IBF just before the February purse bid that he would not participate because the split of a winning bid would have been 60-40 in Hrgovic’s favor, so the interim title plans were canceled.
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Hrgovic photo: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing
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