Bob Arum and his promotional team will spend the remainder of 2022 helping Jared Anderson rebuild the momentum the heavyweight had established before a hand injury caused an eight-month layoff that’ll end Saturday night.
Assuming the undefeated knockout artist beats Miljan Rovcanin, Arum anticipates Anderson will fight once more before the end of this calendar year. Assuming the promising prospect keeps winning and stays healthy, his matchmakers won’t wait much longer, according to Arum, to step up Anderson’s level of opposition.
“Sometime early next year,” Arum told BoxingScene.com, “we’re gonna make moves to fight guys like Hrgovic, the Chinese contender [Zhang Zhilei], that class of guy.”
Croatia’s Hrgovic (15-0, 12 KOs) survived some troublesome moments, including a first-round knockdown, and edged China’s Zhilei (24-1-1, 19 KOs) by unanimous decision in a 12-round IBF elimination match Saturday night on the Oleksandr Usyk-Anthony Joshua undercard in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Serbia’s Rovcanin (24-2, 16 KOs) has gone 5-0 against overmatched opponents since Germany’s Agit Kabayel (22-0, 14 KOs) beat him by third-round technical knockout in April 2018. Rovcanin’s only other loss was a 10th-round disqualification defeat to Alexander Dimitrenko (then 40-3) in December 2017.
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Anderson (11-0, 11 KOs), who Caesars Sportsbook lists as a 60-1 favorite, will fight for the first time since he stopped Ukraine’s Oleksandr Teslenko (17-2, 13 KOs) in the second round December 11 at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Toledo, Ohio native was supposed to meet Germany’s Christian Hammer (27-10, 17 KOs) on the Tyson Fury-Dillian Whyte undercard April 23 at Wembley Stadium in London, but his hand injury forced Anderson to withdraw from that bout.
“I think he’s an amazing talent,” Arum said. “Obviously, the injury was a hiccup. But it happens. Athletes are always susceptible to being injured, but now he’s good to go. And now we pick up and we’re gonna keep him extra busy to make up for his time when he couldn’t fight.”
The 90-year-old promoter still envisions what Fury foresaw from him after Anderson helped Fury prepare for the unbeaten WBC champion’s two victories over Deontay Wilder.
“What I really remember and what has stuck with me is Tyson Fury saying he will be the next heavyweight champion,” Arum said. “He was giving Fury tremendous work when he was training for the Wilder fights.”
ESPN will televise Anderson-Rovcanin as its co-feature before former lightweight champions Richard Commey and Jose Pedraza square off in the network’s 10-round main event (10:30 p.m. ET; 7:30 p.m. PT). The junior welterweight bout between Ghana’s Commey (30-4, 27 KOs) and Puerto Rico’s Pedraza (29-4, 14 KOs) will headline an 11-bout card at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.