A heavyweight fight that was always a nonstarter is officially no longer in play.

BoxingScene.com has confirmed that Andy Ruiz has declined to move forward with an ordered interim IBF heavyweight title fight versus Filip Hrgovic. Representatives for the former unified heavyweight titlist informed the sanctioning body prior to Thursday’s scheduled purse bid hearing which was canceled as a result.

Croatia’s Hrgovic (15-0, 12KOs) will now search for a new opponent in efforts to remain active while awaiting his title shot as IBF mandatory challenger to unified WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titlist Olkesandr Usyk (20-0, 13KOs). The IBF previously approved an interim title fight while Usyk remains in talks for an undisputed championship clash versus lineal/WBC champ Tyson Fury (33-0-1, 24KOs).

he waits his turn at the top prize. Should the same process remain in play, the sanctioning body will then offer the fight to the next highest ranked available contender.

Former heavyweight titleholders Deontay Wilder (43-2-1, 42KOs) and Anthony Joshua (24-3, 22KOs) are ranked just below Ruiz, though Hrgovic needn’t hold his breath.

Joshua—a two-time unified titlist—is already scheduled to next face Jermaine Franklin (21-1, 14KOs) atop an April 1 DAZN show from The O2 in London. Wilder is the number-one ranked WBC heavyweight contender, though a final eliminator with Ruiz (35-2, 22KOs)—number-two with the WBC—is one of at least two separate options under consideration for the former long-reigning WBC heavyweight title claimant.

Ranked below Wilder and Joshua are current heavyweight contenders Martin Bakole (18-1, 13KOs) and Frank Sanchez (21-0, 14KOs). Neither boxer presently has a fight scheduled or linked to any particular matchup that is even in the negotiation stage.

The canceled purse bid ends a six-week ordeal for an ordered fight that never got off the ground.

The fight was first ordered by the IBF on January 11, with both sides given 30 days to reach terms. Croatia’s Hrgovic (15-0, 12KOs) is co-promoted by Wasserman Boxing and Matchroom Boxing, while Ruiz (35-2, 22KOs) is represented by TGB Promotions—the primary promotional outfit under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) umbrella. Interest was gauged during the negotiation period, though it seemed clear that it would never end with an actual in-ring fight.

Upon the conclusion of the negotiation period, Ruiz’s team expected the matter to simply expire. IBF Rule 16.B covering contestants for interim title fights states that “[if] an interim bout cannot be negotiated, no purse offer will be held. The contestants must agree on the terms of the bout. The winner of the interim title will become the mandatory challenger for the Champion.”

However, an exception was made by the IBF in this situation since “in this case we have two interested parties willing to participate in a bout for the Interim Heavyweight title, but they could not reach an agreement in the time set forth by the IBF.”

Not only was the IBF prepared to move forward with the purse bid proceeding, but its Board of Directors also ruled that the fight would carry a 60/40 purse split in Hrgovic’s favor. Vacant title fights traditionally carry an even 50/50 split, but it was determined that Hrgovic was entitled to a greater amount as the mandatory challenger.

Hrgovic—who claimed a Bronze medal for Croatia during the 2016 Rio Olympics—advanced to the top contender slot following an off-the-canvas, split decision win over China’s Zhilei Zhang (21-1-1, 13KOs) last August 20 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The bout took place on the undercard of Usyk’s repeat win over Joshua (24-3, 22KOs) to defend the titles he claimed in their September 2021 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in North London.

There existed a brief period where Hrgovic believed a title shot was next. The IBF initially ordered a mandatory title fight between Usyk and Hrgovic last November 12, with Hrgovic’s side demanding an immediate purse bid hearing.

The matter was tabled until early January, when the IBF offered a mea culpa in acknowledging that the WBA was next in the rotation of mandatory challengers.

Daniel Dubois currently holds the secondary WBA ‘Regular’ title. The hard-hitting Brit is promoted by Queensberry Promotions, as is Fury. Absent a Fury-Usyk undisputed championship, the sanctioning bodies will have to get back together to verify the current mandatory rotation.

Dubois suffered a leg injury along with three knockdowns before rallying to stop Kevin Lerena in the third-round of their secondary title fight last December 3 in North London. The timetable remains unclear for his ring return, though Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren previously noted an eagerness to keep Dubois active, as well as interim WBO heavyweight titlist Joe Joyce, who next defends his secondary title versus Zhang on April 15 at Copper Box Arena.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox