Filip Hrgovic thrust himself into the fray for the world title as he claimed a broadly unanimous decision victory over Zhilei Zhang in their IBF heavyweight knockout match on Saturday.
The 30-year-old survived a knockdown in the first round as well as multiple scares against the 2008 Olympic silver medalist in what proved to be an exceptional competition that included a slick canvas, a Clashes of leaders and blocking opportunities that both failed to complete. Capitalization.
With the win, Hrgovic extended his unbeaten record to 15-0 (12 KOs) as one of the ‘most avoidable’ heavyweights in the tournament, while the result marks The first failure of Zhang’s career, 39 years old.
It was Zhang who catapulted himself to the top with a first-round knockdown after catching an off-balance Hrgovic with a right-handed strike that sliced the back of his opponent’s neck.
Hrgovic reacted positively in the second and began to show his own strength as he lowered his clean right hands to Zhang’s chin, but to no avail.
The Croatian emerged third with blood running down his body after an accidental, unaided head collision with Zhang more punishment including another ferocious left to push his man against ropes.
Power was matched with precision in the fourth round as Zhang nailed an uppercut in a smooth mix, before he threatened to stop it two rounds later with a dominating phase that sent Hrgovic reeling in corner.
It was Hrgovic’s turn to loosen up with a strong punch to Zhang’s chin, but again the veteran looked unfazed and tried to fight back as he still looked more dangerous of the two.
What had started as a passion contest fell into a mess when conditions became a factor and both men sought to conserve energy if possible in the closing stages.
Suddenly, Zhang burst into life again and once again looked close enough to stop Hrgovic in ninth only to seem to run out of steam at the crucial moment.
He then had an uncanny, unstoppable fall, in the 11th half due in part to a strong spell from Hrgovic but also possibly a water tarp that troubled him throughout the second half of the game. match.
As the bell rang it was a tough game to name, but it was Hrgovic who found himself in favor of the referee’s card to pass the toughest test of his professional career by a margin. significantly.