Filip Hrgovic Open to Rematch with Zhilei Zhang In China
China’s Zhilei Zhang (25-1-1, 15 KOs) is on the minds of boxing observers following his *surprising sixth-round stoppage win over Joe Joyce on April 15. Opinions are starting to filter down on who Zhang will fight next. Someone offering his services to be Zhang’s next opponent is IBF mandatory Filip “El Animal” Hrgovic (15-0, 12 KOs), who said he would knock Zhang out.
WILLING TO DO IT AGAIN
They previously fought each other in August 2022, with Hrgovic defeating Zhang by a unanimous decision. It was a debatable verdict, as several fans felt Zhang did enough to win. After watching Zhang’s performance against Joyce, Hrgovic said the following during an interview with iFL TV.
“I heard a lot of people say it was a controversial decision, but I would like to give him a rematch. Let him take some rest and let’s do a rematch at the end of this year . . . I’ll come to Beijing (China). I’ll beat him in front of one billion Chinese people.”
“I’ll go to China, and I’ll knock him out. On my worst night, I beat that guy, and on my best night, he’s not going past six rounds.”
Hrgovic explained that when he fought Zhang, he fought with a heavy heart following the passing of his father. El Animal said that training camp for that fight was horrible, and he never felt like himself. Hrgovic promises that he would be a much better fighter in a second fight with Zhang.
The question becomes: how likely is it to happen? Matchroom handles the career of Hrgovic. Would the promotional giant allow him to fight Zhang and risk his mandatory status?
Zhang became the WBO Interim heavyweight champion with his victory over Joyce. More importantly, he put himself in the spotlight. In China, the 40-year-old is now a superstar. With his home country having deep pockets, you can see a scenario where Zhang could become a bit of a cash cow in the division and bring home significant paydays. One of those potential paydays could be another fight with Hrgovic.
Their first fight was a terrific contest and arguably the best fight in the heavyweight division in 2022. Zhang is currently under the banner of Queensbury and would love to get his measure of revenge. If there’s mutual interest from Matchroom and Queensbury, Zhang – Hrgovic II at the end of 2023 is definitely possible.