Lightweight contender Dejan Zlaticanin was left at the altar again on Tuesday when, for the second time, he had an opponent withdraw from a scheduled 135-pound world title fight.
Zlaticanin was due to face Emiliano Marsili for a vacant lightweight belt on June 11 in the opening bout of a Showtime-televised tripleheader at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York, the night before the annual International Boxing Hall of Fame inductions minutes away in Canastota, New York. However, Marsili pulled out of the fight, claiming illness.
"We booked his travel and everything was done," Lou DiBella, Zlaticanin's promoter, told ESPN.com. "His people called Sunday night to ask something about the hotel, and then I woke up [Tuesday] morning to an email from his doctor, copied to the WBC, saying he had a stomach ailment and was running a fever and couldn't fight."
Zlaticanin (21-0, 14 KOs) and Marsili (32-0-1, 14 KOs) were due to meet for the WBC belt stripped from Jorge Linares, who was supposed to fight Zlaticanin in a mandatory defense in April but pulled out after he fractured his right hand in training. Unable to fight, Linares was named a titleholder "in recess," paving the way for Marsili, 39, the former European champion from Italy, to face Zlaticanin, a 31-year-old southpaw from Montenegro, for the vacant title with the winner obligated to face Linares upon his return if he wanted the bout.
Zlaticanin said he feels like he can't catch a break.
"I don't know why this is happening," he said. "Why are they scared? I don't have guns in my hands in the fight, just gloves."
Zlaticanin, who has not fought in one year since his very impressive fourth-round knockout of favored Ivan Redkach in a title-elimination fight last June to earn the title shot, likely still will fight for the vacant belt on the card as long as DiBella can secure an opponent that the WBC and Showtime will approve.
One possibility is Edner Cherry (34-7-2, 19 KOs), a Bahamas native fighting out of Wauchula, Florida. Cherry, 33, has been training for a June 28 fight against Lydell Rhodes that is not nearly as meaningful or lucrative as a shot at a world title would be. With adviser Al Haymon involved with Zlaticanin, Rhodes and Cherry, the fight is makeable.
In Cherry's most recent fight, in October on Showtime, he lost a heavily disputed split decision challenging junior lightweight world titleholder Jose Pedraza.