Middleweight contender Tureano Johnson, who was the likely candidate to challenge unified titleholder Gennady Golovkin on April 23 in an HBO-televised main event, has been forced to pass on the fight because of a nagging shoulder injury.
Johnson injured his right rotator cuff during his one-sided decision win against Eamonn O'Kane on Oct. 17 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The fight was an official title elimination contest that took place on the undercard of Golovkin's bout against David Lemieux, whom Golovkin knocked out in the eighth round to unify belts. Johnson's victory earned him a mandatory title shot against Golovkin.
Although Johnson initially felt he could be ready by late April, Eric Gomez, vice president of Golden Boy Promotions, which represents Johnson, told ESPN.com on Wednesday night that Johnson has been feeling discomfort in his shoulder and visited his doctor in the Bahamas, where he is from.
Gomez said Johnson (19-1, 13 KOs), 31, was told that he probably would need surgery on his rotator cuff, and that even if he didn't need surgery he would not be able to fight in April.
"Tureano will come to the States for a second opinion," Gomez said. "But for the time being the fight with GGG is off. We will not allow him to fight until he is 100 percent medically cleared."
Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions, Golovkin's promoter, had been negotiating a unification bout with Frank Warren, the promoter of titleholder Billy Joe Saunders (23-0, 12 KOs), who outpointed Andy Lee to win the belt on Dec. 19.
Golovkin would have been allowed to put off the mandatory defense if he could make a unification bout, but with the talks with Saunders always a long shot to come to fruition, Loeffler had also been talking to Golden Boy about doing the mandatory bout.
Then, in recent days, the prospect of the Saunders fight went down the drain. Loeffler told ESPN.com that Warren and Saunders "wanted to go in a different direction for his next fight."
Loeffler said he and Golovkin (34-0, 31 KOs) would prefer to simply fight world champion Canelo Alvarez this spring to unify titles in what would be the biggest fight in boxing. Golovkin, by virtue of also owning an interim 160-pound belt, is the mandatory challenger for Alvarez, but their camps agreed recently that each boxer would take an interim bout this spring and then look to make their fight in September.
Alvarez is due to fight on HBO PPV on May 7, but also does not have an opponent.
"GGG and Canelo fighting in May would make a lot of sense," Loeffler said, "but it would be up to the Canelo/Golden Boy side to do it."