By Jake Donovan

A once-agreed upon lightweight title fight between Jorge Linares and Dejan Zlaticanin is in danger of being postponed, if not falling apart altogether.

Recent reports from Linares’ home country of Venezuela have suggested that the defending titlist has suffered a fractured right hand, thus postponing plans for a springtime showdown with Zlaticanin, his mandatory challenger.

The date has been moved around for the World Boxing Council (WBC)-ordered title fight, which was due to air live on Showtime. There were talks of pairing up the bout with a super featherweight title fight between defending champ Jose Pedraza and mandatory challenger Stephen Smith, with such a doubleheader taking place in late March or early-to-mid-April.

Instead, Linares (40-3, 27KOs) will require up to two months of rest and relaxation to allow for the reported injury to heal.

Medical proof of the injury has yet to surface, although will likely be required by the WBC in order to properly postpone the bout. In going that route, there would exist the possibility of an interim title fight, where the winner would be required to face Linares upon his return to the ring.

Representatives from Golden Boy Promotions – who co-promotes Linares along with Teiken Promotions – were not in a position to speak to the injury reports as this goes to publish.

Linares won the vacant title with a 4th round knockout of overmatched Javier Prieto in Dec. ’14, having since made two successful title defenses. His first provided a major scare – hardly a unique scenario in his career as he had to rally from way behind to score a 10th round stoppage of Kevin Mitchell on the road in England last May.

Mitchell has since announced his retirement from the sport on Wednesday.

Linares’ second title fight defense came last October, fighting at home in Venezuela for the first time in more than 5 ½ years. A 4th round knockout of Ivan Cano provided the necessary confidence builder before entering his ordered mandatory title defense.

Zlaticanin (21-0, 14KOs) earned the title shot with a rousing 4th round stoppage of Ivan Redkach in their title eliminator matchup of unbeaten lightweights last June. The bout aired live on SHO Extreme, serving in supporting capacity to Deontay Wilder’s first defense of his heavyweight title, knocking out Eric Molina in the 9th round of the first ever heavyweight title fight in his home state of Alabama.

The win put Zlaticanin in a great place, but also forced the dangerous contender from Montenegro to play the waiting game until his title fight was ordered by the WBC. That moment came during the sanctioning body’s annual convention last November, after which his promoter, Lou DiBella began negotiations with Golden Boy Promotions and Teiken Promotions.

As Zlaticanin is advised by Al Haymon – against whom Golden Boy has filed a pending $300 million antitrust lawsuit – there were concerns of talks stalling and eventually going to purse bid. Instead, DiBella – who led the talks – was able to work out a deal to satisfy all parties and bring the fight to Showtime, as HBO showed marginal interest in the fight despite its renewed relationship with Golden Boy Promotions.

There were talks of a date being finalized in the coming days, but it’s now back to the drawing board for all parties involved.

Assuming the WBC does its part, Linares will not be permitted to pursue another fight unless he agrees to relinquish his title. It remains to be seen where Zlaticanin would go from here, though ideally getting him back into the ring would be a priority, having not fought since last June.

Should Linares’ injury check out and the WBC orders an interim title fight, Zlaticanin would be required to face the next highest rated contender. The number-two lightweight in the WBC rankings is Emiliano Marsili, an unbeaten boxer from Italy who would conceivably be interested in such a fight as he is the sanctioning body’s interim titlist.

In the event that Marsili passes on the fight, there could arise the scenario of a rematch in Zlaticanin’s future. The number-three ranked contender is Redkach (19-1, 15KOs), who rebounded from his aforementioned loss of his career with a 4th round knockout of Erick Martinez last October.

Jake Donovan is the managing editor of Twitter: @JakeNDaBox