ALTHOUGH Manchester’s Terry Flanagan has never competed outside Britain in a nine-year, 34-fight professional career, this could soon be about to change, reports ESPN.
The talk is that the former WBO world lightweight champion will have to fight Regis Prograis, the World Boxing Super Series’ super-lightweight tournament’s number one seed, at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, USA, on October 27.
It’s a tough ask for Flanagan on neutral ground, let alone in a venue close to Prograis’ home. Yet ‘Turbo’ Terry, coming off a points defeat to Maurice Hooker in June, is surely already aware he’s up against it – Prograis, the top seed, actively pursued him, after all – and knows he’s just one win away from changing his fortunes and blowing a tournament wide apart. Where else better to do it?
Croatia’s Filip Hrgovic seemingly has a thing for heavyweights from Britain and Ireland. First there was Hatfield’s Tom Little, then there was Dublin’s Sean Turner, and next, on September 8 in Zagreb, he will oppose the towering figure of Scotland’s Gary Cornish.
Hrgovic, a 2016 Olympic bronze medallist, has streaked to 5-0 (4) as a pro, but steps up against Cornish in what will be his first fight in his homeland (with the lightly-regarded WBC international heavyweight title up for grabs).
“It will be a great honour to fight for the WBC international heavyweight title in front of my home fans in Zagreb,” said Hrgovic. “Gary Cornish has had a very good career so far, fighting experienced boxers. As with all my opponents, I have a lot of respect for him, and being Scottish I am sure he will be a great warrior.
“He will be the tallest opponent I have faced and that will be a new style and a new challenge that I will have to unlock. But if you want to be a World Champion one day, you have to face fighters with all different styles and calibres.
“I believe it will be a tough fight between two true warriors willing to give their all. Heavyweight boxing is special, as you can’t predict what will happen. The only thing I can assure the fans is that I will be 120 per cent ready to show my best boxing on September 8.”
It’s a step up, yes. But this has as much to do with height than anything else. Indeed, the press release announcing the fight laboured the point – you know, that Cornish is six-foot-seven and therefore the tallest opponent of Hrgovic’s career – to such an extent that you started to doubt the rest of it: the record, the ability, the threat level, the actual boxing-related stuff.
Still, Cornish, presumably ambitious enough at 31, is saying all the right things. He’s also coming off a first-round knockout of Dave Howe.
“I was in Germany sparring Kubrat Pulev when I first came across Hrgovic,” he said. “I sat down and watched him spar and he seems a good fighter, but I’m going to beat him.
“I don’t mind fighting in his hometown and in a hostile atmosphere. I will just block it out and focus on the job in hand. I’ve faced four Croatians before and stopped all of them, so I’m confident going over to his back yard.
“I’m back with my old coach and I feel better than I ever have. It’s a good fight for me to take because it’s risk and reward. It’s a big risk because he’s so highly rated but there’s the huge reward of taking his ranking when I beat him.”
The last highly-rated unbeaten heavyweight with an Olympic medal to oppose Gary Cornish was Anthony Joshua, who stopped him inside a round. ‘Highlander’ hopes for better luck in Croatia.