After welterweight Errol Spence Jr. scored three knockdowns en route to an impressive fifth-round knockout of former junior welterweight titleholder Chris Algieri on April 16, his path to a world title shot was clear.
Spence (20-0, 17 KOs) was ordered to face Russian contender Konstantin Ponomarev (30-0, 13 KOs) in a title eliminator for the right to become the mandatory challenger for the world title belt, which is held by England's Kell Brook (36-0, 25 KOs).
However, Spence, 26, of Desoto, Texas, will be ordered to face another opponent with Ponomarev out of contention (they had not finalized an agreement).
According to Carl Moretti, vice present of Top Rank, which promotes Ponomarev, he has a hand injury that will prevent him from facing Spence, who's the 2015 ESPN.com prospect of the year.
"He has a problem with his right hand that is still not healed," Moretti said.
Ponomarev, 23, injured his hand in a 10-round split decision victory against then-undefeated Brad Solomon on April 9 in Las Vegas on the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley III undercard.
"Because of the injury, he is unavailable, so the IBF will move on to the next available contender," Moretti said. "I think Ponomarev would want to be 100 percent for a fight against Errol Spence. It was enough of an injury to reconsider going through with the fight.
"His hand was badly bruised."