The off-again, on-again World Boxing Council heavyweight title fight between champion Vitali Klitschko and No. 1 contender Hasim Rahman is off again due to a Klitschko back injury that will require surgery Wednesday.
A thigh injury set back Klitschko's original defense against Rahman from April 30 to July 23. Now, Klitschko apparently won't be healthy until September, pending results of the operation in Los Angeles.
"The fight probably won't happen until September, but we won't know for sure until he comes out" of surgery, said Klitschko's adviser, Shelly Finkel. "There's some sort of bone spur pressing on a nerve in his back, which is why he's had a problem with his left leg."
Klitschko (35-2, 34 knockouts) is coming off a December knockout of England's Danny Williams. He had six months from that fight within which to face Rahman - a time frame that was extended due to Klitschko's thigh injury, said WBC head Jose Sulaiman.
But Sulaiman could order an interim championship fight between Rahman (40-5-1, 33 KOs) and No. 2 contender Monte Barrett (31-3, 17 KOs). Klitschko would face the winner, provided the Rahman-Barrett fight could be held July 23.
"It's not been officially reported to us, but I've heard Klitschko is injured again. If so, the WBC could order an interim championship," Sulaiman said. "The interim fight would have to be 90 days before the next fight - no later than July. Klitschko would be champion until he fights the [Rahman-Barrett] winner."
Barrett, who is Rahman's former stablemate, is managed by Stan Hoffman, Rahman's former manager. "Monte's my friend. He was at my house on July 4," Rahman said. "But business is business."