Filip Hrgovic Honors his Father Pero Hrgovic in Victory Over Zhilei Zhang
In a surprising heavyweight IBF title eliminator clash, undefeated fighter Filip “El Animal” Hrgovic (15-0, 12KO) defeated Zhilei “Big Bang” Zhang (24-1-1, 19KO) in a fight to remember on the undercard of the rematch between unified champion Oleksandr Usyk versus Anthony Joshua.
Hrgovic has had trouble finding anyone to fight him. The likes of Michael Hunter, Joseph Parker and Luis Ortiz all returned his invitation to sender. Finally, someone stepped up and accepted the fight in Zhang, and before he could celebrate, tragedy struck. Hrgovic lost his father and had to push the fight back to deal with the loss.
Once in the ring, Hrgovic quickly realized that this would not be an easy night. Despite his advanced age, Zhang gave as good as he received. Both men traded power shots throughout the contest as El Animal was dropped and rocked several times. Big Bang grew weary down the stretch, and Hrgovic dug deep by landing power shots until the final bell.
MOTIVATED BY FAMILY
Hrgovic would get the controversial decision with two scorecards of 115-112, which did not tell the true story of the fight. During the post-fight interview, he gave credit for his ability to survive such a tough fight to his father and wife.
“Warrior man. It was for my father, who passed away a few months ago. I did everything for him – Pero Hrgovic is a special man.”
“My beautiful wife […] she was with me in my training camp for a few months in Houston. She gave me all energy.”
Hrgovic also admitted that he was losing in the beginning, but pulled it out in the end.
“It was a very close fight, I was losing the fight, but in the later rounds, I pushed myself and gave everything and gave him some huge shots.”
El Animal admitted that Zhang shocked him with that performance. This victory has set him up to face unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk as the IBF does not play when it comes to mandatories.
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By: Garrisson Bland