Sam Soliman withdraws from fight with Antoine Douglas with bad knee

Former middleweight titlist Sam Soliman, dealing with a nagging knee injury, withdrew on Thursday from his fight against up-and-comer Antoine Douglas.

Soliman and Douglas were due to meet on March 5 at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in the middle bout of a Showtime-televised tripleheader headlined by the Julian Williams-Marcello Matano junior middleweight title eliminator.

"I was powering along, and was in what I considered the best form of my career, but I'm taking the advice of medical experts and am going to get myself right again," Soliman said. "I'm no shirker, but I would have been letting myself and my fans down if I went into the fight knowing I was injured."

Douglas (19-0-1, 13 KOs), 23, of Burke, Virginia, was looking to gain experience against Soliman (44-13, 18 KOs), 42, of Australia, a crafty and extraordinarily experienced fighter who recently suffered back-to-back decision losses. Soliman lost his belt to Jermain Taylor in October 2014 -- in part because his knee was injured during the fight -- and lost to unbeaten Dominic Wade, who parlayed the victory into a mandatory shot against unified titleholder Gennady Golovkin on April 23.

"Sam is bitterly disappointed, but we view it as a temporary setback only," said David Stanley, Soliman's manager. "Postponing the fight is the right thing to do, as it makes no sense to fight injured, particularly at the level Sam fights at. We feel for Antoine Douglas's team, but that's the ups and downs of boxing.

"Sam's doctors have said he needs immediate arthroscopic surgery on his knee and he will be back in full training within six weeks and fight fit eight weeks after that. There are negotiations for a very exciting opportunity later this year. The risk of fighting now, against medical advice, would also impact on this opportunity."

Showtime said no replacement to face Douglas has been set.