Željko Mavrović[pronunciation?] (born 17 February 1969) is a Croatian former professional boxer. In 1998, as an undefeated challenger, he faced Lennox Lewis for the WBC heavyweight title, but lost in what would be his final fight. After retiring from boxing, Mavrović became an entrepreneur.


Mavrović was born in Zagreb, in the neighbourhood Srednjaci (which is the source of his nickname Šaka sa Srednjaka or Fist from Srednjaci).

Amateur career

As an amateur boxer, Mavrović was the Mediterranean champion in 1991 and Croatian champion in 1991 and 1992. Other Amateur accomplishments were:

  • 1988 Olympic Games, Seoul, South Korea (Heavyweight)
  • 1989 European Championships, Athens, Greece (Heavyweight)
  • 1991 European Championships, Stockholm, Sweden (Heavyweight)
  • 1991 Mediterranean Games, Athens, Greece (Heavyweight): Gold Medal
  • 1992 Olympic Games, Barcelona, Spain (Heavyweight)

Professional career

Upon turning professional, he became the boxing champion of Europe (EBU) in 1995 and kept his title in 1996 and 1997 against seven opponents.

In 1998, he went up against Lennox Lewis for the world heavyweight champion title, but lost after twelve rounds on points. Although he was outclassed by Lewis in the fight, his daring performance pulled appreciative comments from boxing insiders. Lewis' manager Frank Maloney said that "Mavrović must have 240lb of steel in his chin" after the fight.[1] Lewis described the fight as the most awkward win of his career, citing sauna-like conditions in the ring, as well as Mavrović's agility, motivation and preparedness.[2]

Mavrović never fought again after this bout. In the next years he was a few times scheduled against quality opposition (like for example against Hasim Rahman in 1999 where his late replacement Oleg Maskaev then knocked Rahman out of the ring in a well remembered fight), but he always had to pull out due to injuries and he ultimately had to finish his career due to an undisclosed illness.

In December 2012 Mavrović announced his return to professional boxing. A match with Serbian Cruiserweight boxer Enad Ličina was scheduled for April 2013, but after breaking a rib during training just a few weeks before the scheduled match his return was first delayed[3] and than canceled.[4]

Mavrović served as a boxing director for the Croatian Boxing Federation during the 2014 European Youth Boxing Championships in Zagreb. He was quoted after the incident where Croatian boxer Vido Loncar assaulted and seriously injured a referee after a loss, excusing Loncar with the argument "I believe that he is not a butcher or as bad as this act makes him look. This was part of his excessive ambition in that moment".[5] Loncar was subsequently banned from boxing for life.


His Golden Glove remains the biggest trophy in the history of Croatian heavyweight boxing, and he was named the Croatian sportsperson of the year twice. He was also distinctive for his Mohawk hairstyle, which led to a later nickname Irokez (Croatian for Iroquois).

Professional boxing record

27 Wins (22 knockouts, 5 decisions), 1 Losses (0 knockouts, 1 decision)[1]
Result Record Opponent Type Round Date Location Notes
Loss 27–1 United Kingdom Lennox Lewis UD 12 26 September 1998 🇺🇸 United States WBC World Heavyweight Title. 109–119, 112–117, 111–117
Win 27-0 Italy Vincenzo Cantatore TKO 4 18 October 1997 Austria Vienna, Austria EBU Heavyweight Title.
Win 26-0 Hungary Lajos Eros TKO 5 12/07/1997 United Kingdom Kensington, London, UK EBU Heavyweight Title.
Win 25-0 United Kingdom Julius Francis TKO 8 15 February 1997 Austria Vienna, Austria EBU Heavyweight Title.
Win 24-0 United Kingdom Clifton Mitchell TKO 2 02/11/1996 Germany Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bayern, Germany EBU Heavyweight Title.
Win 23-0 United States Mark Anthony Wills RTD 8 22 June 1996 Germany Dortmund, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Win 22–0 France Christophe Bizot UD 12 20 April 1996 Germany Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany EBU Heavyweight Title.
Win 21-0 Poland Przemyslaw Saleta KO 1 09/12/1995 Germany Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany EBU Heavyweight Title. Saleta knocked out at 2:58 of the first round.
Win 20-0 United Kingdom Michael Murray KO 4 14 October 1995 Germany Munich, Bayern, Germany
Win 19–0 United States Ken Smith KO 2 17 June 1995 Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Smith knocked out at 2:55 of the second round.
Win 18–0 France Christophe Bizot TKO 11 11/04/1995 France Levallois-Perret, Hauts-de-Seine, France EBU Heavyweight Title.
Win 17-0 United States Mark Young RTD 5 25 March 1995 Germany Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany Young could not answer the bell for round six.
Win 16–0 United States Nathaniel Fitch KO 1 11/02/1995 Germany Frankfurt, Hessen, Germany
Win 15–0 Russia Oleg Savenko KO 3 26 November 1994 Germany Wuppertal, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany German International Heavyweight Title.
Win 14-0 United States Marion Wilson PTS 8 08/10/1994 Germany Halle, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Win 13-0 United States Jerry Jones PTS 10 17 September 1994 Germany Leverkusen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Win 12–0 United States James Pritchard UD 10 18 June 1994 Illinois Chicago, Illinois, United States
Win 11–0 United States Marshall Tillman TKO 1 04/06/1994 Germany Dortmund, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Win 10-0 United States Jimmy Bills KO 1 07/05/1994 Germany Koblenz, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
Win 9-0 United States Mike Dixon TKO 4 26 March 1994 Germany Dortmund, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany Referee stopped the bout at 1:25 of the fourth round.
Win 8-0 United States Will Hinton TKO 4 05/02/1994 Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 7-0 United States Kimmuel Odum PTS 8 11/12/1993 Germany Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Win 6-0 United States David Bey TKO 4 16 October 1993 Germany Koblenz, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
Win 5-0 Netherlands Marco van Spaendonck TKO 1 18 September 1993 Germany Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany Referee stopped the bout at 1:37 of the first round.
Win 4–0 United States Webster Vinson KO 2 07/08/1993 New Jersey Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States
Win 3-0 United States John Morton KO 3 26 June 1993 Germany Alsterdorf, Hamburg, Germany
Win 2-0 United Kingdom Chris Harbourne TKO 1 01/05/1993 Germany Berlin, Germany
Win 1-0 Belgium Bruno Podgorny TKO 3 20 March 1993 Germany Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

Outside the Ring

After retirement he went into agricultural business. He opened "Eko-centar Mavrović" in Sloboština near Požega where he produces his own line of eco-friendly food.[6] After initial success his business fell into financial problems in the early 2010s.


  1. ^ Boxing: Lewis less than a knockout in US
  2. ^ Lennox Lewis: Consummate Cool
  3. ^ "Mavrović u Nu2: Puklo mi je rebro, odgađam povratak!" (in Croatian). tportal. 2013-04-07. Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  4. ^ "ISPOVIJEST ŽELJKA MAVROVIĆA 'Nisam samoubojica! Odustajem. Imam ženu i djecu!'" (in Croatian). Jutarnji list. 2013-10-06. Retrieved 2013-10-11. 
  5. ^ "Boxer banned after brutal attack on referee". Sky Sports. 2014-10-23. Retrieved 2014-10-25. 
  6. ^ Eko-Mavrović homepage

External links