Vitali Klitschko pulls out of mandatory defence against Bermane Stiverne
WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko (45-2) has pulled out of his mandatory title defence against Bermane Stiverne (23-1-1) because of injury.
Klitschko has an injury to his right hand and it means he is likely to go through 2013 without fighting.
His last bout was in September 2012 when he beat Germany's Manuel Charr in Moscow and the WBC's board of governors will now meet to discuss the situation and Klitschko could be stripped of his world title or ordered to fight before a specified date.
The WBC said: "The champion has stressed he won't be able to fight Stiverne on the date scheduled for his mandatory defence."
Klitschko had been lined up to meet Stiverne, who has 20 knock-outs from 23 wins in 25 bouts, after the Canadian's unanimous decision win over Chris Arreola of the USA in April.
Between them, Klitschko and younger brother Wladimir hold all of the major heavyweight titles in boxing.
Wladimir, 37, will defend his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO titles against Russia's Alexander Povetkin in Moscow on October 5.