A drinking and substance abuse problem has forced South African light heavyweight contender Thomas Oosthuizen out of a shot at secondary world titleholder Juergen Braehmer, according to Golden Gloves promoter Rodney Berman, Oosthuizen's promoter.
"Oosthuizen is a sporting tragedy," Berman told ESPN.com. "He truly has/had abundant ability, but regrettably, drinking and substance abuse take their toll. He was training diligently but unexpectedly went AWOL."
Oosthuizen and Braehmer, a native of Germany, were scheduled to meet on March 12 at the Jahnsportforum in Neubrandenburg, Germany, but the fight was officially canceled by Braehmer promoter Team Sauerland on Tuesday after Berman informed the company of Oosthuizen's condition.
Team Sauerland is searching for a new opponent to face Braehmer, a 37-year-old southpaw who would defend his 175-pound belt for the sixth time if a replacement is found.
"We are working hard to find an adequate opponent to replace Oosthuizen," promoter Kalle Sauerland said. "There are a number of options on the table, and we're confident we will be able to deliver a deserving opponent and a high-quality world title fight on March 12 in Neubrandenburg."
Braehmer (47-2, 35 KOs) and Oosthuizen (25-0-2, 14 KOs), a 27-year-old southpaw, were originally scheduled to meet on Nov. 7 at the Salle des Etoiles in Monte Carlo, but the fight was postponed when Braehmer was forced out of the bout because of a hand injury he suffered in training camp a few weeks before the fight. It was rescheduled for March 12 but was canceled altogether because of Oosthuizen's problems.
"This is the final nail in the coffin," Berman said. "Tommy's finished as a fighter. I can't see him having another fight. The stark reality is he's beyond any help. Many people are angry and disappointed. I am duty-bound to inform the World Boxing Association of this situation. I can't sweep this under the carpet. There are far more deserving boxers who should be rated."
Harold Volbrecht, Oosthuizen's trainer, said Oosthuizen has been having problems for a while.
"I pull him out of bars, I bail him out of police stations, I get him out of street fights," Volbrecht said. "My wife, Michelle, and I feel betrayed. We've tried for so long to keep him on the right road. As soon as he comes right, he veers off again. We've looked after him daily, doing the things his parents should be doing. He could have become one of the greatest in South African boxing, but he's wasted everything. We'll always wonder what might have been."