Usyk called out by potential Fury replacement that ‘wants the belts’

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Undefeated heavyweight contender Filip Hrgovic is ready and waiting to fight Oleksandr Usyk after negotiations over a blockbuster unification bout against Tyson Fury fell through.

Usyk and Fury had been locked in talks for months, but negotiations collapsed earlier this week and both fighters now look set to face other opponents. And Usyk has a raft of potential challengers, given he holds the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles and all three organisations have a mandatory challenger waiting in the wings.

Hrgovic is the IBF’s mandatory, having defeated Zhilei Zhang in an IBF eliminator on the undercard of Usyk’s rematch with Anthony Joshua. And the 15-0 Croatian’s promoter Kalle Sauerland has revealed he is already in camp and ready to fight.

“Usyk, Hrgovic is waiting for you, the rest of the belts, he wants them all,” Sauerland told Sky Sports. “He’s not the type to beat round the bush, Filip. He’s been waiting a long time for this shot.

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“After the whole of the IBF top 15 didn’t want to fight him, hats off to Zhang. He’s next in line to fight Usyk [for the IBF title]. Who doesn’t think that Hrgovic would give any heavyweight a right run for his money?

“I’m going back to the fact that he stopped David Haye from taking part in the David Haye-Tyson Fury fight [in 2013]. He was the one who gave the left hook in sparring that took him out of that fight, unfortunately.

“There’s the leaked sparring with Deontay Wilder. It’s a right back and forth. It’s pay-per-view boxing in sparring. For people who know their boxing Hrgovic is obviously a massive, massive fight at heavyweight.”

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However, Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce are also in contention to face Usyk next as the WBA and WBO’s respective mandatories, with Dubois holding the WBA (Regular) heavyweight title and Joyce the WBO interim heavyweight belt. As it stands, the WBA are next in rotation to name Usyk’s challenger and Dubois’ promoter Frank Warren has insisted his fighter is ready to go despite tearing his ACL just three months ago in his last fight against Kevin Lerena.

“He’s the WBA [Regular] champion and the WBA have said in writing that if we hadn’t agreed terms and submitted contracts by April 1, for Tyson and Usyk then that’s the fight,” Warren said. “They are calling that mandatory defence. Don’t think that Daniel is not ready to box, he’s here today. He is ready to go.”

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