By Jake Donovan
Krzysztof Wlodarczyk is in search of a new opponent after Beibut Shumenov was forced to withdraw from their December 18 cruiserweight clash in Las Vegas after suffering an eye injury during training camp.
The cruiserweight bout was due to take place on the 2015 season finale of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on Spike TV, as part of a special three-hour telecast live from Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Wlodarczyk was angling to become a two-time cruiserweight titlist, but for now will just have to settle for a return to the ring.
Shumenov's injury was confirmed by members of Wlodarczyk's team whom otherwise declined comment after word was first leaked (via social media) by Chicago-based sports writer Przemek Garczarczyk.
Wlodarczyk (49-3-1, 35KOs) has been out of the ring since losing his cruiserweight title in a 12-round decision Grigory Drozd on the road in Russia last December. The setback ended his second title reign after six successful title defenses in a span of more than three years
The veteran boxer from Poland - who turns 35 in January - previously enjoyed a brief reign as champ that began and ended with Steve Cunningam. Wlodarczyk claimed his first belt with a 12-round win over Cunningham in Nov. '06, before dropping a decision to the American the following May, with both fights having taken place in Poland.
No word on yet on the candidates being sought to replace Shumenov, if a belt of some sort will be at stake for Wlodarczyk's return or if he will still remain on the broadcast.
Shumenov would have been making the first defense of the interim title he claimed in a narrow (and disputed) points win over B.J. Flores in July.
The rest of the December 18 PBC on Spike TV telecast remain intact. Headlining the show, Rances Barthelemy and Denis Shafikov collide in a vacant lightweight title fight. Also on the card, unbeaten prospects Gervonta Davis and Chris Pearson are showcased in separate bouts.
A new co-feature has been added - another cruiserweight bout in fact, though one that now disrupts another planned PBC event. Murat Gussiev and Isiah Thomas will meet in a final cruiserweight eliminator, with the winner to earn a mandatory title shot versus reigning champ Victor Ramirez.
The pair of unbeaten cruiserweights were due to collide on December 29 at Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which was to headline a year-end edition of PBC on Fox Sports 1, but the the status of that card is once again up in the air given the lineup shift.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox