Welterweight Kell Brook, the mandatory challenger for titleholder Devon Alexander, withdrew from his world title shot on Monday because of a stress fracture in his right foot, Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn announced.
Alexander was due to make his first title defense against England's Brook on May 18 on the Showtime-televised card headlined by the Lamont Peterson-Lucas Matthysse welterweight bout at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
Brook tried to work through the injury, which was disclosed a few days ago, and has been receiving treatment. He finally was advised not to fight.
"Kell has recently developed pain in his right foot," Hearn said in a statement. "Following specialist review and investigations over the last 10 days he has been diagnosed with a stress fracture of his right fourth metatarsal and a further injury of his right navicular, both of which require ongoing treatment, including withdrawal from full training.
"As a result of these injuries and the time required to recover, he has been advised that he will not be medically fit to fight on May 18. Obviously, this is a huge blow and Kell is devastated, but we have had to make the right decision for Kell Brook the fighter. We will speak with [Alexander promoter] Golden Boy and hope to reschedule the bout in the near future."
This is the third time that an injury has scuttled the fight. It was originally scheduled to take place on Jan. 19 in Los Angeles, but Brook (29-0, 19 KOs) suffered an ankle injury and the fight was postponed. It was rescheduled for Feb. 23 in Detroit, but Alexander (24-1, 13 KOs) suffered a severely strained right biceps, causing it to be delayed until May 18.
Whether the fight is rescheduled again is unclear. It is possible it could be rescheduled or that the IBF, the organization whose title Alexander holds, could drop Brook and move on to the next available challenger.
Whatever happens, Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer said that Alexander will remain on the May 18 card.
"It is very unfortunate that this fight is off again," Schaefer said. "Seems to me like it's a fight that is not supposed to happen. We will be talking to Team Alexander, the IBF and [Showtime] trying to identify a replacement opponent which would be acceptable to all parties involved. The show must go on, and it will."
Alexander, a former junior welterweight titlist from St. Louis, won a welterweight title with a unanimous decision against Randall Bailey on Oct. 20 in New York. The fight was on the same day in which Brook knocked out Hector Saldivia in the third round in England to become the mandatory challenger.