Arslanbek Makhmudov suddenly finds himself without a confirmed opponent for his next fight. has confirmed that a new foe awaits the unbeaten heavyweight contender, who will headline a December 16 show from Centre Gervais Auto in Shawinigan, Canada. Makhmudov was originally due to face Nigeria’s Raphael Akpejiori, who—according to a breaking news report from Canada-based network TVA Sports—will instead take a regional title fight in his home country.

Event promoter Camille Estephan, head of Eye of The Tiger Management (EOTTM), informed the news outlet that a replacement opponent has been secured, though further specifics were not made available as this goes to publish.

The original headliner was an intriguing pairing of undefeated heavyweights on the rise.

Makhmudov (15-0, 14KOs) is coming off a ten-round decision win over former title challenger Carlos Takam on September 10 in Montreal. The feat marked the first distance for the 33-year-old Russian heavyweight now based out of Montreal, who’d previously stopped every opponent he’d faced and none lasting beyond the seventh round.

The 6’5½“ Makhmudov was looking at a rare size disadvantage prior to the switch.

Akpejiori (14-0, 13KOs) was also forced to settle for a decision win for the first time in his most recent outing, an eight-round shutout of Terrell Jamal Woods on June 11 in Atlanta. The 6’8” Nigerian—now based out of Miami—previously scored thirteen straight knockouts, all in two rounds or less.

A solid two-way test appeared to be in store, only for EOTTM having to head in a different direction due to circumstances beyond the company’s control.  

“In complete transparency, for me, it will not happen”, Estephan insisted to TVA Sports. "It was a surprise because a contract was signed, but it seems that Raphael and his team were discussing at the same time for a fight involving a belt in Nigeria.”

The new opponent for Makhmudov is expected to be announced in the coming days.

The rest of the show remains intact, including a heavyweight crossroads bout between Quebec’s Simon Kean (21-1, 20KOs) and former title challenger Eric Molina (29-8, 21KOs).

Fringe middleweight contender Steven Butler (31-3-1, 26KOs) faces Joshua Conley (17-4-1, 11KOs) in a scheduled ten-round bout. A more significant pairing pits unbeaten Mary Spencer (7-0, 5KOs) and former four-time title challenger Femke Hermans (13-4, 5KOs) in a ten-round junior middleweight bout.

Spencer was recently named as the number-one and mandatory contender for the WBC junior middleweight title held by lineal/WBC/IBF/WBO champ Natasha Jonas (13-2-1, 8KOs).

Makhmudov holds the WBC’s Silver title, though EOTTM was unsuccessful in getting him to advance in the rankings. With a win on December 16, he will then have to next face Kazakhstan’s Zhan Kossobutskiy (19-0, 18KOs).

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox