- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Former heavyweight world champion Hasim Rahman, due to challenge titleholder Alexander Povetkin in a mandatory fight on July 14, withdrew on Thursday because of a wrist injury.
Rahman aggravated a cyst on his right wrist so acutely during a training session on Wednesday that he had surgery to remove the cyst on Thursday morning and will be sidelined for two weeks, promoter Greg Cohen told ESPN.com.
"He was working out and he had excruciating pain in his wrist because of the cyst," Cohen said. "His trainer, Eddie Mustafa (Muhammad), stopped the session and had him go to the doctor. He had an MRI. 'Rock' wanted to have a cortisone shot, but the doctor said it wouldn't help. So he had surgery (Thursday) morning. Everything went fine. He's out for two weeks. Really, it's a minor thing, but obviously we have to postpone the fight."
Sauerland Event, Povetkin's promoter, announced Friday that the Hamburg card has been canceled, determining that time was too short for lining up a substitute opponent.
"All of us were looking forward to the event," Sauerland Event managing director Chris Meyer said, "but it is our responsibility to deliver world-class boxing to the spectators inside the arena and the audience at home in front of their TVs. Therefore, after hearing (about) the injury of Alexander's opponent, we had to cancel the whole show."
Cohen said he expected the fight to be rescheduled. He said their contract with Sauerland Event contains standard injury-delay language.
"Our contract calls for a postponement if there's an injury," Cohen said. "From our perspective, the fight will be postponed. We're the mandatory, and Povetkin has to make his mandatory defense. I expect Rahman and Povetkin will be fighting each other in their next fight. It's a matter of the German TV date."
Povetkin said in translated remarks, "I am very disappointed. The preparations were going really well. I am in great shape. Obviously, I wanted to show that inside of the ring and do a good job."
Rahman has had the cyst but had not previously been bothered much by it, Cohen said, so when it flared up so severely, it came as a surprise.
"It was a pretty substantial cyst around the wrist, and he said from time to time he had discomfort, but never a big deal," Cohen said. "'Rock' is not a complainer. He didn't have it checked out. (Wednesday) he said it was like a sledgehammer hitting his wrist every time he punched. He saw the doctor, had the surgery. He did the right thing. Now we have to reschedule the fight."
Cohen said as soon as he found out, he notified Sauerland Event officials.
"They were disappointed to hear the news but appreciative that as soon as we knew we informed them," Cohen said. "We hope to have a new date worked out with them soon."
Povetkin (24-0, 16 KOs) was originally due to make his third defense against Rahman (50-7-2, 41 KOs) in London on the undercard of the Dereck Chisora-David Haye heavyweight fight. However, earlier this week the bout was moved to Hamburg, Germany, to its own card due to conflicts on the timing requirements of the two bouts with their respective home television networks, BoxNation in the United Kingdom and ARD in Germany.