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Joseph Parker injured so cannot fight Filip Hrgovic and will instead look for Andy Ruiz Jr rematch, says David Higgins

"Joseph Parker explained to me that he has elbow trouble," his manager said. "There is an economic problem with Filip Hrgovic"; stalemate for Hrgovic in his search for an opponent to stage an IBF heavyweight eliminator fight

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Was this Joseph Parker's most spectacular KO?

Joseph Parker is injured so is not the answer to Filip Hrgovic's long wait for a top opponent, says his manager David Higgins.

Hrgovic is hunting for a rival to stage an IBF eliminator fight - the winner would become the mandatory challenger to the heavyweight belt held by Oleksandr Usyk.

Luis Ortiz had already made himself unavailable due to injury and Parker was the next option, but is also rehabilitating while looking for higher-profile options in the US, his manager has said.

Filip Hrgovic
Image: Filip Hrgovic could not tempt Parker into the ring

Higgins explained: "Joseph has a great profile in the UK and the Asia-Pacific region. The Holy Grail is to become a draw on both sides of the Atlantic, and only few have done that.

"For Joseph to grow his career he should look stateside, and look for big knockouts against American fighters.

"That gives him a worldwide reputation while he waits for his title shot.

"If you don't do that? You end up like Anthony Joshua - only respected in certain parts of London.

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"A rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr would be fantastic.

"Parker beat Ruiz Jr in a very close fight in New Zealand. Had it have been in America, it may have gone the other way.

Joseph Parker vs Derek Chisora, WBO Intercontinental Heavyweight Title Fight, Manchester.18 December 2021.Picture By Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing.
Image: Parker impressed against Chisora

"Andy wants a rematch. Fighting him in America is interested because he has a cult following among Mexican-Americans.

"If Parker stuck to a game plan he would beat Deontay Wilder easily.

"Dillian Whyte? The long-awaited Whyte rematch would be interesting."

Why can't Hrgovic get a fight?

Parker's decision leaves Hrgovic still unable to find a willing opponent to decide the status of IBF mandatory challenger.

Higgins said: "There is an economic problem with Hrgovic.

"When we built up Parker, we built a fan base in New Zealand.

December 4, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Filip Hrgovic and Emir Ahmatovic during their December 4, 2021 bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.
Image: Hrgovic is undefeated in 14

"We funded, paying big money, to stage Parker vs Andy Ruiz Jr in New Zealand.

"Does Hrgovic have a home fan base anywhere?

"He has attained a high ranking but has no fan base so the money on offer is laughable for somebody like Parker.

"Also, this fight is at the back of the eliminator queue because the other belts must be sorted out.

"So Parker could fight Hrgovic for a payday that would barely cover his training costs, win, then sit out for a year waiting for his shot."

When will Parker return?

Former WBO champion Parker impressed by knocking Derek Chisora three times in a standout victory but aggravated an existing injury.

"Parker explained to me that he has elbow trouble," Higgins said. "He has had two major elbow surgeries and it is an ongoing problem. They get sore.

*** FREE FOR EDITORIAL USE ***.Joseph Parker during todays Media Day.28 April 2021.Picture By Dave Thompson Matchroom Boxing
Image: Parker must recover from an elbow injury

"He wants to go to a specialist before he starts punching or doing weights again.

"He also had a badly burst eardrum. He is a bit battered.

"So we declined the eliminator and explained those points.

"We wish Mr. Hrgovic well and I sympathise with his situation."

What are Hrgovic's options?

Hrgovic is currently ranked at No 2, behind only Martin who lost by knockout last weekend to Ortiz.

The Croatian must, in order of the rankings, enter negotiations with each contender until he strikes an agreement to fight.

The winner of a final eliminator would then later earn a mandatory shot at the IBF belt, which Usyk is set to defend against Joshua.

The IBF rankings

No 1 - 'Prince' Charles Martin. The former IBF champion, who lost the belt in 2016 to Joshua to become the second-shortest reigning holder ever, is not an option after losing to Ortiz.

Charles Martin Luis Ortiz
Image: Charles Martin has been ruled out after losing to Ortiz

No 2 - Filip Hrgovic. The undefeated Croatian is a 2016 Olympic bronze medallist and is undefeated in 14 pro fights with 12 KOs.

Filip Hrgovic ended 2021 with a victory over Emir Ahmatovic in Las Vegas (AP)
Image: Filip Hrgovic is struggling to find an opponent

No 3 - Joseph Parker. The former WBO champion, who shone against Chisora, holds a lofty No 2 ranking with that governing body so may prioritise this avenue.

Joseph Parker vs Derek Chisora, WBO Intercontinental Heavyweight Title Fight, Manchester.18 December 2021.Picture By Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing.
Image: Parker knocked Chisora down three times

No 4 - Anthony Joshua. The former IBF, WBA and WBO champion will rematch Usyk in his next fight.

Anthony Joshua, Oleksandr Usyk
Image: Joshua is set to fight Usyk again

No 5 - Tony Yoka. The Frenchman, the 2016 Olympic gold medallist, is the next in line to officially enter talks with Hrgovic. He had a scheduled fight with Martin Bakole for this month cancelled due to Covid-19.

Tony Yoka
Image: Yoka was scheduled to fight Bakole

No 6 - Joe Joyce. Hrgovic's promoter Kalle Sauerland said: "Joyce has other plans as [he is] highly rated elsewhere. Nothing but respect for Joe and it's a great fight. Joe beat Filip nine years ago in the [amateurs] - so they know each other."

Joe Joyce
Image: Joe Joyce may have plans with the WBO route

No 7 - Agit Kabayel. The German is undefeated in 21 fights - he famously outpointed Chisora five years ago. He was considered for a fight with Tyson Fury last year which never materialised.

Agit Kabayel was impressive in retaining his European crown
Image: Kabayel owns a win over Chisora

No 8 - Murat Gassiev. The former IBF and WBA cruiserweight champion has stepped up to heavyweight. His only defeat in 29 fights was against Usyk.

Murat Gassiev has signed a deal with Matchroom Boxing
Image: Gassiev is a former cruiserweight champion

No 9 - Luis Ortiz. The 42-year-old Cuban announced a dramatic return by knocking out Martin. His manager told Sky Sports they would fight Hrgovic - but an injury has ruled Ortiz out.

Charles Martin, Luis Ortiz
Image: Ortiz KO'd Charles Martin

No 10 - Andy Ruiz Jr. The first man to beat Joshua is ranked at No 3 by the WBC.

Andy Ruiz Jr
Image: Andy Ruiz Jr held the IBF, WBA and WBO titles

No 11 - Demsey McKean. The Australian southpaw is unbeaten in 20 and recently made a US debut after spending his career down under.

Demsey McKean
Image: Demsey McKean is an unbeaten Australian

No 12 - Zhilei Zhang. The undefeated Chinese veteran is interested in fighting Hrgovic if the negotiations are right, his manager told Sky Sports.

November 26, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Zhilei Zhang and Craig Lewis during their November 27, 2021 fight at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.
Image: Zhang is open to negotiations with Hrgovic

No 13 - Hughie Fury. The younger cousin of Tyson Fury has once challenged for a world title, against Parker, and is prioritising chasing Chisora.

Hughie Fury
Image: Hughie Fury is targeting Chisora

No 14 - Martin Bakole. The DR Congo-born and Scotland-based contender saw a fight with Yoka fall through this month. "Martin is contracted to box Yoka," his manager Billy Nelson said.

Martin Bakole
Image: Martin Bakole is 'contracted to box Yoka'

Sky Sports Boxing schedule

Sunday January 30 - Top Rank in Tulsa
Robson Conceicao vs Xavier Martinez - WBC super-featherweight title eliminator

Saturday February 5 (targeted) - BOXXER in Cardiff
Chris Eubank Jr vs Liam Williams
Claressa Shields vs Ema Kozin - IBF, WBA and WBC middleweight titles

Sunday February 6 - Top Rank in Fresno
Jose Ramirez vs Jose Pedraza

Saturday February 19 - BOXXER in Manchester
Amir Khan vs Kell Brook

Saturday February 26 - BOXXER and Top Rank in Glasgow
Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall - undisputed super-lightweight titles

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