By Michael Benson
The undercard for the Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua rematch has now been confirmed in full.
On August 20 in Saudi Arabia, the Ukrainian and the Brit will meet again with the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight world titles at stake.
Prior to that though, dangerous Croatian contender Filip Hrgovic will compete to earn the right to become a future challenger.
Highly rated Hrgovic will face China’s unbeaten Zhilei Zhang in a final eliminator to determine the IBF’s next mandatory.
After the Usyk vs Joshua rematch, it’s expected that the WBA could be the next organisation to put forward their mandatory, with the Hrgovic vs Zhang winner then called not long afterwards.
Hrgovic will be a big favourite in the bout as had been largely avoided in the division.
It took a long time to secure him an opponent in this final eliminator, with all other heavyweights in the IBF’s top 15 turning down the fight until they reached Zhang who is rated #15.
The pair were initially meant to meet on the undercard of Canelo Alvarez vs Dmitry Bivol back in May, but had to reschedule as Hrgovic’s father passed away.
“I respect a fighter like Zhilei Zhang, especially as there were plenty of others who could have fought me and didn’t,” said Hrgovic.
“The respect stays outside the ring, and it’ll be business as usual for me when I step in there and look to do what I do best – put people away.
“There’s a huge amount at stake in this fight. I’m a fighter who belongs at the top of this division, and there’ll be no doubt about this when Zhang is dealt with and I go on to beat whoever it is out of Usyk or Joshua.
“I’m entering my prime, and now is the perfect time to be putting myself up against the top fighters in this division. I will become the heavyweight champion of the world.”
A second final eliminator on the card sees Callum Smith meet France’s Mathieu Bauderlique.
The winner will become the WBC mandatory challenger at light-heavyweight – with the world title currently held by unified WBC, IBF and WBO champion Artur Beterbiev.
“The last time I was in Jeddah I was crowned the best super-middleweight in the world, so I have fond memories of the place,” said Smith.
“The whole experience was great, and the fans really got behind me, so I’m really looking forward to returning next month.
“I won’t come away this time as a world champion, but this is a tough fight on a great card and one which should set up a challenge at the number one in the division.”
Also on the show, Somali-British super-bantamweight prospect Ramla Ali and her opponent Crystal Garcia Nova will become the first female boxers to feature in an official international event in Saudi Arabia.
As well as this, former Floyd Mayweather man Badou Jack will face Richard Rivera in a cruiserweight bout.
And another ex-Mayweather Promotions fighter Andrew Tabiti will take on Tyrone Spong in a heavyweight contest.
Rounding off the action will be Usyk teammate Daniel Lapin in a light-heavyweight bout with Jozef Jurko and Saudi Super-Lightweight prospect Ziyad Almaayouf facing Jose Alatorre.
- Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua 2 (WBA, IBF and WBO Heavyweight Titles)
- Filip Hrgovic vs Zhilei Zhang (Heavyweight)
- Callum Smith vs Mathieu Bauderlique (Light-Heavyweight)
- Ramla Ali vs Crystal Garcia Nova (Super-Bantamweight)
- Badou Jack vs Richard Rivera (Cruiserweight)
- Andrew Tabiti vs Tyrone Spong (Heavyweight)
- Daniel Lapin vs Jozef Jurko (Light-Heavyweight)
- Ziyad Almaayouf vs Jose Alatorre (Super-Lightweight)
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