The heavyweight world championship fight between holder Vladimir Klitschko and Frenchman Jean-Marc Mormeck Saturday has been called off after the Ukrainian underwent surgery to have a kidney stone removed.
"The fight has to be cancelled," Klaus-Peter Dittrich, Klitschko's representative, said in an email Monday.
Both camps were hopeful that the bout would go ahead in early March.
"The December 10 fight in Duesseldorf is off but maybe it will be just postponed," Mormeck's press officer Clara Moreno said by telephone.
She later said that the fight would be rescheduled for March 3, although details still need to be rubber-stamped by the International Boxing Federation.
"We still just need the green light from the IBF," added Bernd Boente, Klitschko's manager.
The 35-year-old Klitschko, who holds the IBF, IBO, WBO and WBA versions of the title, was looking to clinch his 50th knockout from 60 professional bouts against former cruiserweight world champion Mormeck.
Klitschko's older brother, Vitali, holds the only other major heavyweight belt after defending his WBC title in September against Pole Tomasz Adamek.
"It's a surprise," said Mormeck in a video aired by promoter Orange on their sports website (orange-sport.orange.fr/).
"But it's for health reasons so there's nothing we can do about it. It's best if he is healthy for the fight."
Mormeck has just three fights under his belt at heavyweight level since he lost his WBC and WBA cruiserweight titles to Briton David Haye in 2007.