Welterweight titlist Cintron has severe ligament damage in right hand

The plan sounded reasonable enough: Welterweight titlist Kermit Cintron would blow through Jesse Feliciano in a routine defense on Nov. 23 and then move on to a big-time unification match with fellow titleholder Paul Williams on Feb. 2.

So much for the best-laid plans.

Cintron (29-1, 27 KOs) found out Thursday that the pain in his aching right hand that he injured during the first round of his tough 10th-round TKO of Feliciano was caused by severe ligament damage. Dr. R. Scott Cook, an orthopedic surgeon in Cintron's hometown of Reading, Pa., advised Cintron not to fight until at least March 1, promoter Main Events announced Thursday.

There goes the fight with Williams (33-0, 24 KOs), who won his belt in July by outpointing Antonio Margarito, the only fighter to defeat Cintron.

"I'm disappointed that I injured my hand, but I'm going to do whatever the doctor says because I'm eager to get back into the ring and unify the welterweight title," Cintron said.

Main Events chief Kathy Duva said there was no thought of trying to rush Cintron back into the ring for the big-money fight.

"Kermit will take the time necessary to heal his hand," Duva said. "We will not run the risk of him entering the ring and injuring his hand further."

HBO, which was supposed to televise Cintron-Williams as the main event of a tripleheader, and Williams promoter Dan Goossen are moving forward with the card and trying to secure a replacement for Cintron.

"We're obviously moving forward with Feb. 2," Goossen said. "Who wants to take on Paul Williams? That's what it boils down to. The opportunity is there."

Goossen said he has been in touch with representatives for Zab Judah, Ricardo Mayorga, Luis Collazo and Carlos Quintana.

"We want the biggest fight we can get," Goossen said. "Paul wants to fight. He hasn't fought since July 14. So we are moving full steam ahead to get someone in place as quickly as possible."

Judah is No. 1 on the list and his promoter, Brian Young, said he will talk over the fight with Judah and his father/trainer, Yoel Judah.

"I think it would be a great fight, competitive," Young said. "I need to see if Zab is ready to take it."

Judah outpointed Ryan Davis on Nov. 17 but suffered a small crack in his left hand.

"The hand will be OK, but he can't spar until January," Young said. "The hand is a little tender, but it's not a big deal. We'll see what happens. I am waiting to hear back from Zab and his father. I think there's interest. How much, I can't say."

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.