Former four-time heavyweight titleholder Evander Holyfield's fight with Brian Nielsen has been postponed until May 7 because of the cut Holyfield suffered in his previous fight, promoter Sauerland Event announced Thursday.
Holyfield, long past his prime but fighting on at age 48, was scheduled to meet Danish national hero Nielsen (64-2, 43 KOs), who turns 46 in April and has not fought in nine years, on March 5 in Copenhagen.
However, Holyfield took an interim bout against Sherman Williams on Jan. 22 and suffered a cut over his left eye as the result of an accidental head butt. The bout was stopped after the third round and ruled a no contest, although Williams was dominating Holyfield, who did not appear to want to continue.
Sauerland Event said the cut had kept Holyfield (43-10-2, 28 KOs) out of training "longer than originally anticipated."
"I had hoped to be fully fit to fight Brian on March 5 but after another close examination this week the doctor said I could not do sparring until the end of the month," said Holyfield, who is due to earn $500,000 against Nielsen. "My good physical shape and my meticulous preparation have been my biggest advantages throughout my career, and I will not enter the ring against a determined opponent like Nielsen when I am not 100 percent prepared.
"I take Nielsen very seriously. I need a convincing victory to put myself back in line for another shot at the world title, so I will give the cut enough time to heal before resuming practice. I will be in top shape on May 7 and defeat Brian Nielsen."
Nielsen has not fought since April 2002, when he won an eight-round decision against former cruiserweight titlist Uriah Grant. Waiting two more months won't change much, even though he was frustrated by the postponement.
"Always look on the bright side of life," Nielsen said. "The more training I get, the stronger I will become. I would have been ready to give Evander a great fight on March 5. I have worked my butt off in practice where [trainer] Karsten Rower has been torturing me twice a day.
"Although I am not exactly thrilled to be in his German training hell for two more months, every single practice session will only make me better," he added. "I will make sure Evander gets a nice souvenir from his trip to Copenhagen. I will cut his other eye, too. He will be good friends with the doctor he has been seeing."
"We fully understand Evander's decision. It is the right thing to do," promoter Kalle Sauerland said. "We have stressed from the very beginning that we would never let a fighter inside the ring if he is not 100 percent ready, and that includes a perfect preparation. As we have learned from Brian, let's look at the bright side. Two more months of professional boxing training and sparring will make him even better."
Nielsen built his eye-catching record mostly against low-level opposition during his 1992 to 2002 career, which included a seventh-round knockout loss to former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson -- Holyfield's rival -- in 2001. Nielsen's only other loss was a 10th-round upset knockout to club fighter Dicky Ryan in 1999.
Nielsen has some wins against notable names on his résumé -- former heavyweight titleholders Tim Witherspoon (1999), Larry Holmes (1997) and Tony Tubbs (1995) -- but each came when they were way past their primes.
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.