Callum Smith will fight Dutchman Nieky Holzken in Saturday’s World Boxing Super Series semi-final after the withdrawal through illness of Juergen Braehmer.
The 39-year-old Braehmer, of Germany and a former light-heavyweight world champion, has been struggling with influenza and therefore cannot fight for a place in the super-middleweight competition’s final, scheduled for London’s O2 Arena in June.
Holzken, 34, has won each of his 13 professional fights, was a WBSS reserve, and had already been preparing to face Russia’s Dmitrii Chudinov, incidentally a former opponent of fellow semi-finalist Chris Eubank Jnr.
“We got the call as we were boarding the plane,” said Liverpool’s undefeated Smith, 27, of Saturday’s fight in Nuremberg.
“I am committed to fighting on Saturday and will fight whoever the World Boxing Super Series puts in front of me.”
Holzken, who fights with an orthodox stance unlike southpaw Braehmer, an opponent Smith had spent the past two months preparing for, said: “I signed up as a substitute fighter so I’m in great shape and prepared for Saturday. I’ve watched Callum fight many times.
“I study everyone in my weight division. He’s a good, solid fighter. We’re both big body punchers. Callum, you better be ready, because I am, and I’m coming to beat you.”
“It is not possible for me to go into the ring like this and I would like to apologise to my fans. I was well-prepared and looking forward to fighting Callum.”
The development in what has so far been a successful competition comes at a time when there is uncertainty surrounding Groves’ ability to participate in the final, following the shoulder injury suffered in Saturday’s high-profile defeat of Eubank Jnr.