Junior welterweight titlist Khabib Allakhverdiev, due to make his first title defense against Breidis Prescott on March 30, dropped out of the fight Thursday because of a right elbow injury, Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti told ESPN.com.
Allakhverdiev-Prescott was scheduled to take place at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas and serve as the HBO-televised co-feature to the much anticipated main event -- the rematch between Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado, who will meet for a vacant interim junior welterweight title five months after Rios (31-0-1, 23 KOs) stopped Alvarado (33-1, 23 KOs) in the seventh round of a brutal slugfest.
"Khabib's right elbow is a mess," Moretti said. "There are fragments and a lot of blood inside the elbow. He's going to be on the shelf for several weeks. I don't expect him to return until the summer. He was in Miami training and apparently was feeling pain for several days, if not a week. He went and had an MRI and an evaluation, and that's what it showed. He tried to fight through it and stay in the fight but he just couldn't pull it off.
"He couldn't fight next week and will be out for a bit. He'll need therapy and possibly a scope to clean it up. I think it's been something there for awhile."
Allakhverdiev (18-0, 8 KOs), 30, of Russia, won a vacant title Nov. 30 in Sunrise, Fla., in a strong performance against then-undefeated Joan Guzman, a former two-division titleholder. Allakhverdiev scored one official knockdown -- although there were multiple others that were ruled slips -- before the fight ended in the eighth round after Guzman injured his left knee on what was ruled an accidental foul, sending the fight to the scorecards for a technical decision.
Soon after the fight, Allakhverdiev, a southpaw, signed with Top Rank and was added to the Rios-Alvarado II card. But he has been having problems with his elbow all week and then it got too bad for him to train, Moretti said.
As of Thursday night, Top Rank was working to finalize a deal that would keep Prescott on the telecast against Top Rank prospect Terrence Crawford (19-0, 15 KOs), 25, of Omaha, Neb.
Crawford is already scheduled to fight Robert Osiobe (14-5-4, 6 KOs) on the untelevised undercard, but once Allakhverdiev was ruled out, Top Rank went to work trying to finalize the fight, which was approved by HBO. If the fight is finalized, Prescott and Crawford would meet in a scheduled 10-round bout at a maximum of 140 pounds, Moretti said.
Prescott (26-4, 20 KOs), 29, who is from Colombia and lives in Miami, has made several appearances on American television and is best known for his shocking first-round knockout -- in 54 seconds -- of Amir Khan in England in a 2008 lightweight fight. In the fight before beating Khan, Prescott won a split decision against Richard Abril, who eventually won a lightweight world title.
Prescott has won two fights in a row after back-to-back defeats in 2011, a controversial decision against Paul McCloskey in McCloskey's hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland, and a 10th-round knockout loss to Alvarado on the undercard of the third Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight in November 2011. Prescott was easily outpointing Alvarado before a badly cut Alvarado rallied for the stoppage win in the final round.
For Crawford, facing Prescott would be a big opportunity and provide him with his first major television exposure.
"Crawford is already on the card and is in great shape," Moretti said. "His fight was going to be shown on the international broadcast, and now he'll get to fight a better opponent on HBO in the opening fight. There's food and then there's caviar. This was a no-brainer for us. (If it happens) it should be a great fight in the ring style-wise. You have Crawford, who is a young, undefeated fighter with a pleasing style, and Prescott, we already know the wars he provides. How could this not be an explosion of some sort?"