Filip Hrgovic chasing Anthony Joshua: IBF mandatory goal ahead of ‘toughest fight’ on Saturday

Filip Hrgovic is aiming to edge closer to becoming Anthony Joshua’s mandatory challenger by improving his unbeaten record this weekend.

Croatia’s Hrgovic can win his 12th fight in a row against Rydell Booker in Miami on Saturday night, less than two months after his previous win.

He currently sits at No 6 in the IBF rankings but can rocket higher if his streak of knockouts continues.

“He’s in a very good position after just 11 fights,” his co-promoter Nisse Sauerland, who works alongside Eddie Hearn, told Sky Sports.

“To become mandatory is our aim.

“(Current IBF mandatory challenger) Kubrat Pulev is fighting Joshua, then there is Charles Martin, Oleksandr Usyk (who is going the WBO route), Michael Hunter and Andy Ruiz Jr.

“So hopefully, with a win on Saturday, he can jump into the top five.

“The IBF is the route that has opened up for us. The WBC title will be tied up for quite a while.

“The IBF stick to their mandatories and they are very regularly. So, for us, it is the soonest route.

“The aim is to get a world title fight next year.”

Joshua defends his IBF, WBA and WBO titles against Pulev on December 12, live on Sky Sports Box Office, then plans two fights against WBC champion Tyson Fury in 2021.

Hrgovic’s most recent four opponents have been dispatched in less than nine combined rounds.

“Hrgovic is very much avoided but I can’t blame guys for that,” Sauerland said.

“They are all waiting for their big opportunity so why fight Hrgovic instead of holding out?

“I don’t see any heavyweight coming close to Hrgovic.

“Below the top guys, Tyson Fury and Joshua, it’s all to play for. And we believe Filip is top of the chasing pack.”

Should the world championships be kept busy between Fury and Joshua in 2021, as planned, then Hrgovic could renew acquaintances with a former Olympic rival.

“Let’s see who wins between Joe Joyce and Daniel Dubois,” Sauerland said. “People are writing Joyce off but I think he’s got a good chance in that fight.”

Joyce (silver) beat Hrgovic (bronze) at the Rio 2016 Games.

“A few years ago there were no exciting heavyweight fights but now? It’s boom time,” Sauerland added.

“The path will become apparent because we’re not scared to fight anyone.

“Booker will be his toughest fight yet. He’s a seasoned pro. They know each other from sparring.

“He’s a tricky fighter, Booker. He throws a lovely uppercut.”

Booker went the distance with Pulev in his previous fight so Hrgovic aims to win before the final bell.

“That’s what is in our mind. Filip needs to make a statement.

“Depending how Saturday goes we might get him out once more this year. We want to keep him busy.”

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