Filip Hrgović (5-0, 4 KOs) and Amir Mansour (23-2-1, 16 KOs) came face-to-face for the first time at a press conference on Tuesday at the Esplanade Zagreb Hotel ahead of their WBC International Heavyweight title contest on Saturday at the Arena Zagreb in Croatia.
Hrgović, the Rio 2016 Olympic Bronze Medallist, will be boxing in his home country for the first time as a professional as he looks to claim his first major title against the vastly experienced former WBC United States Champion Mansour, who appeared unfazed at the prospect of facing the undefeated 26 year-old on his home turf.
“It’s nothing new for me,” said Mansour. "I’m used to fighting in my opponent’s backyards in different countries, cities and states. This is boxing. When the bell rings, it doesn’t matter how much support you have, it’s just the two of us in the ring, and no one can help you.
“I admire Hrgović for agreeing to face me so early in his career. As a boxing fan, I respect him. Whenever you see a guy representing his country and doing well at the Olympics, you’ve got to give him respect. In terms of getting in the ring and fighting, it will be an honour to fight a strong, young contender like him.
“The difference is I’ve been here before. This is his first time. He’s not fought at this level, and he’s going to have to have the fight of his life to beat me. He’s going to need to bring out the warrior in him for the first time, and we’ll see how he does.”
Hrgović described Saturday’s event as ’a dream come true’ as he looks to continue his World title quest with an impressive victory over Mansour. Bolstered by a newly formed partnership with renowned Cuban coach Pedro Diaz, the Croatian amateur sensation intends to prove his professional pedigree at the Arena Zagreb.
“It will be a dream come true to fight in front of my home fans at the Arena Zagreb,” said Hrgović. “I have to thank my promoter and my team who have worked hard to give me this opportunity, and also my new coach Pedro Diaz for helping to prepare me for this challenge. I think I have improved a lot since training with Pedro.
“I don’t agree that this is something new for me. I’ve had over 100 fights as an amateur and have been in the sport for 12 years. I fought all the best fighters as an amateur and I can say I am not afraid to face anybody. I will show on Saturday that this is not new for me. I respect Mansour and I think he will be a good test for me. He’s a great fighter, he is brave, but this is nothing new for me.”