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Murat Gassiev and Andy Ruiz Jr turn down final eliminator against Filip Hrgovic

Demsey McKean and Zhang Zhilei are next in line

Andy Ruiz Jr v Anthony Joshua - Diriyah Arena Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

What, you thought this saga couldn’t get any dumber?

IBF #3 heavyweight Filip Hrgovic has spent the last month combing the sanctioning body’s top 10 in pursuit of an opponent for a final eliminator. Here’s how that’s gone so far:

Now, Dan Rafael reports that #8 Murat Gassiev and #9 Andy Ruiz Jr. have passed as well.

Ruiz is understandable; Parker revealed over the weekend that his team has “been reaching out” to set up a rematch. I’d assume Gassiev’s team wants some more tuneups, as his only fights since 2018 came against Nuri Seferi and Michael Wallisch. Still, it’s disappointing to see his heavyweight career continue to flounder.

With #10 Charles Martin coming off a loss and the newly christened #11 Parker already passing, #12 Demsey McKean and #13 Zhang Zhilei are next. My money’s on Zhang; he’s already stated that he wants the fight and McKean’s next fight is an eight-rounder against a guy who’s lost four of his last six, so I don’t imagine his team is McKeen on tossing him into the deep end yet.