Heavyweight Filip Hrgović.
Photo credit: Mark Robinson

Undefeated heavyweight contenders Filip ‘El Animal’ Hrgovic 14-0 (12) and Zhelei ‘Big Bang’ Zhang 24-0-1 (19) will collide over 12 rounds in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on August 20.

The bout will take place on the undercard of the unified heavyweight title clash between champion Oleksandr Usyk 19-0 (13) and challenger Anthony Joshua 24-2 (22).

The fight is billed as an IBF final eliminator with the winner earning a shot at the victor of the Usyk-Joshua bout.

Hrgovic is riding a five fight knockout streak with all of those wins coming in the first five rounds.

“I respect a fighter like Zhilei Zhang, especially as there were plenty of others who could have fought me and didn’t. The respect stays outside the ring and it’ll be business as usual for me when I step in there and look to do what I do best; put people away,” IBF number three Hrgovic said.

“There’s a huge amount at stake in this fight. I’m a fighter who belongs at the top of this division and there’ll be no doubt about this when Zhang is dealt with and I go on to beat whoever it is out of Usyk or Joshua.

“I’m entering my prime and now is the perfect time to be putting myself up against the top fighters in this division. I will become the heavyweight champion of the world.”

A host of heavyweights were offered the fight with Hrgovic, but it was not until it came to the number 15 ranked Zhang that a dance partner found.

“I’m looking forward to August 20,” said Zhang. “My team and I have been grinding every hour of every day for this fight. Hrgovic is going to be the toughest opponent in my professional career. A victory will secure me the IBF mandatory challenger position, which is why this fight is so important to me. I will be in the best shape I’ve ever been in.”

Wasserman’s head of global boxing, Kalle Sauerland, said: “Filip’s opportunity to fight for a belt has always been an inevitability. If not for a personal loss in his life, he would already be confirmed as next in line to go on and begin ruling this heavyweight division.

“The cream always rises to the top and if you look at the targeted opponents who didn’t want to step into the ring with an animal like Hrgovic, there’s plenty of people who obviously agree that’s the level he belongs at.

“Zhang was man enough to step up in the end, but whether it would have been Zhang or any other heavyweight within the top 15 of this division, the outcome will always be the same. AJ and Oleksandr have a big fight ahead of them, but make no mistake that their toughest fight is yet to come.”