The Filip Hrgovic IBF Eliminator Saga may finally be over. Dan Rafael reports that 13th-ranked Zhang Zhilei has accepted the call to face “El Animal” for a shot at the heavyweight title after 12th-ranked Demsey McKean declined.
For those counting at home, that makes for a final total of four contenders that declined due to injury, three that had prior commitments, and two that just straight-up passed.
The 38-year-old “Big Bang” Zhang (23-0-1, 18 KO) simply hasn’t parlayed his Olympic success into a rise through the pro ranks; consistently weak opposition has left him in a holding pattern since his 214 debut. His biggest fight to date was also his most disastrous, as he suffered what was basically a full-body shutdown in a draw with Jerry Forrest last year.
It’s now or never for the 2008 silver medalist, and Hrgovic (11-0, 9 KO) is unquestionably his only path to a title within the foreseeable future. A whole lot of things had to go wrong to make this possible, but he’ll get his chance.