Filip Hrgovic is a bonafide danger man in the heavyweight division, but in need of a step-up in opposition.
Hrgovic (13-0, 11 KOs) ended a 10-month lay-off in style, scoring five knockdowns in a three-round route of the brave, but overmatched Marko Radonjic in Austria on Friday night.
Four of those knockdowns came in the second round and the referee saved the Montenegro man from further punishment, waving off the contest before the start of the fourth.
Victory ensured the Croat maintained his perfect record of 13 wins with 11 of those coming inside the distance.
‘El Animal’ is highly-touted as a future world champion, following his decorated amateur career, which saw him secure an Olympic Bronze medal in 2016, as well as his sparring with the likes of Deontay Wilder, Wladimir Klitschko and David Haye and fans are demanding stiffer competition.
That can be easier said than done with politics often intervening, but at 29-years-old and having shaken off any ring rust, the Matchroom and Wasserman-promoted fighter is surely on the brink of a defining fight.
Filip Hrgović continues his unbeaten run knocking down Marko Radonjic FIVE times 😳 pic.twitter.com/N3uWRdkK5r
— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) September 10, 2021
So, who could Hrgovic face next?
A showdown with former world champion, Charles Martin appears a realistic option.
Hrgovic is the fourth rated contender with the IBF, whilst Martin (28-2-1, 25 KOs) is ranked at two for the belt he was relieved of by Anthony Joshua in 2016.
The American has been vocal in his desire to face Dillian Whyte, although promoter Eddie Hearn has confirmed that Chris Arreola is the frontrunner to face the WBC interim champion on October 30.
The IBF could call for a meeting between the pair with the third rated contender, Oleksandr Usyk facing IBF titlist, Joshua on September 25.
Martin, who is with Premier Boxing Champions is on a good run of form since only his second professional defeat to Adam Kownacki winning three on the bounce including sixth round stoppage over Gerald Washington in his last fight in February 2020.
The 35-year-old would be the toughest fight on paper of Hrgovic’s career and a deal would have to be struck between the two teams with Martin fighting on FOX and Hrgovic competing on DAZN.
A fight with Michael Hunter could be revisited.
The pair seemed on course for a showdown earlier this year in an IBF final eliminator, however Hunter (20-1-1, 14 KOs) withdrew from the fight and instead opted to face Mike Wilson, who he spectacularly stopped in four rounds in August.
‘The Bounty’, who will fight on Triller for his next few fights was criticised by some fans, who accused him of avoiding the opportunity, however the American told Pro Boxing Fans last month that it was a business decision and he would be open to facing him if the terms were right.
“The fight is already right,” Hunter told Pro Boxing Fans.
“The fans want it, I want it, I don’t have no problems taking that fight.
“There’s even more of an incentive for me to want this fight now, because of the little debacle we had.
“It’s got to be all lined up. The fight part is right, but now we’ve just got to get the business and the numbers right.”
The 33-year-old former Olympian had a disputed draw with Alexander Povetkin which many believed he had won and carries the speed up from cruiserweight as well as the natural skillset to cause anyone in the division trouble.
Hrgovic could rekindle his amateur rivalry with Tony Yoka.
The pair collided at the 2016 Olympics where Yoka (11-0, 9 KOs) pipped his rival in the semi-final and eventually went on to beat Joe Joyce to claim the Gold medal.
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The 29-year-old saw off the previously unbeaten, Petar Milas on Friday night and is in need of a step-up in class himself to realise the potential he demonstrated during his amateur career.
There were calls on social media for the the undefeated heavyweights to face each other next and with the Frenchman, who is signed with Top Rank rated at nine by the IBF, a bout is realistic, although with the pair on different networks with Yoka on ESPN it could complicate matters.