Super middleweight contender Andre Dirrell, training for a March 6 fight with Arthur Abraham in the second round of Showtime's Super Six World Boxing Classic, suffered a back injury while sparring, forcing the bout to be postponed until March 27.
"Andre saw a specialist and he is going to be ready to fight on March 27," Gary Shaw, Dirrell's promoter, said Friday. "I know Andre is deeply disappointed about rescheduling but he is determined to resume training for the super middleweight division's most compelling fight."
The fight was scheduled to take place at the Agua Caliente resort in Rancho Mirage, Calif. However, Chris Meyer, the managing director of Abraham promoter Sauerland Event, said that the fight could move to a new venue because of the switch.
This is the second time in a week that there has been a schedule change for the Group Stage 2 bouts of the six-man tournament.
The two other bouts of Group Stage 2 -- Andre Ward defending his 168-pound title against Allan Green at a site to be determined in the United States and Carl Froch defending his slice of the title against former beltholder Mikkel Kessler in Herning, Denmark -- were supposed to take place April 17 but were pushed back to April 24 by Showtime, which did not announce a reason for the scheduling change.
Showtime announced it will move forward with a card at Agua Caliente on March 6, bumping unified junior bantamweight titlist Vic Darchinyan's title defense from the Abraham-Dirrell undercard into the main event.
The show has been switched from Showtime's A-series, "Showtime Championship Boxing," to a "ShoBox: The New Generation" card with Darchinyan defending his 115-pound belts against Mexico's Rodrigo Guerrero (13-1-1, 9 KOs). In the new co-feature, Australian lightweight Lenny Zappavigna (22-0, 15 KOs) and Fernando Angulo (22-6, 14 KOs) of Ecuador will meet in a scheduled 12-rounder that was on the original card but not scheduled for television.
Darchinyan (33-2-1, 27 KOs) fought at Agua Caliente in his last fight and the casino wanted him back, according to Rich Rose, the casino's sports consultant.
"[Darchinyan] was very impressive and fun to watch in his last fight at Agua Caliente," Rose said.
In December, Darchinyan knocked out Tomas Rojas in the second round in defense of his title on a Showtime-televised undercard.
"I have a lot of possible big fights in the future, but I need to beat this guy up decisively first,'' Darchinyan said. "He's in way over his head. I'm going to sand-blast Guerrero into an early retirement."
Said Guerrero, "This opportunity is what you live for, it's what you dream about and I feel I'm ready for it. I'm a brawler. I come to fight. You're not going to see me box too much. Darchinyan is a big, strong guy with terrific power, so we know what he's about and what he likes to do. I think the biggest key for a fight like this is not to be intimidated. You go in the first round and show him that you can bang with him, but you have to fight smart.
"I've prepared very well and feel that I can win this fight. I know it's a difficult fight -- it's a difficult task, but it's not an impossible one. I'm ready.''
Abraham, the former middleweight titlist who lives in Germany, had already moved his training camp to Palm Springs, Calif., two weeks ago.
He was happy that the fight with Dirrell was rescheduled quickly.
"Of course I was disappointed when I first heard of the postponement, but I am happy to take on Dirrell on March 27," Abraham said. "I want him to be in top shape so that he has no excuses once I am done with him. This is the Super Six World Boxing Classic, the best fighting against the best, so I can understand that he does not want to face me when he is not at 100 percent.
"My training has gone very well thus far. I am in great shape and I will defend my tournament lead against him."
Even if the site of Abraham-Dirrell changes, it will still take place in the U.S., which is important to Abraham as he tries to raise his profile here.
"I look forward to my second fight in the USA and want to again inspire the American public," Abraham said.
In Abraham's only previous bout in the United States, he knocked out Edison Miranda in the fourth round of their rematch in June 2008.
Abraham (31-0, 25 KOs) leads the tournament with three points following his 12th-round knockout victory against Jermain Taylor in his Group State 1 bout in October. Dirrell (18-1, 13 KOs), who lost a split decision to Froch in October in his first bout of the tournament, has no points.
"The most important thing is that Andre gets healthy," said Sauerland Event's Kalle Sauerland. "Arthur is ready to get in the ring with him and win the next three points in the tournament -- no matter when and where. We look forward to March 27 and the next spectacular victory of King Arthur."
The four fighters with the highest point totals after three bouts in the tournament will advance to the semifinals. Fighters are awarded two points for winning with a third point awarded for a knockout victory, one point for a draw and no points for a loss.
Froch and Ward each have two points for decision wins. Kessler and Green, who replaced Taylor when he dropped out, also have no points.
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com.