David Haye's hopes of catapulting himself into world title contention later this year have been dented by a hand injury that has forced the former WBA heavyweight champion to withdraw from next month's clash with Manuel Charr.
Haye was set to fight for the first time in nearly a year at the Manchester Arena on 29 June against an opponent whose only professional defeat came when he was controversially stopped because of a cut to his right eye in the fourth round by WBC champion Vitali Klitschko last year.
But after injuring his left hand on Sunday evening, the 32-year-old today announced that the contest had been postponed.
It is not yet clear whether the bout will be re-arranged, with Haye confirming that he will need at least four weeks' rest.
"I'm absolutely gutted to have to pull out of this fight" - David Haye
This setback derails his hopes of enticing either Vitali or Vladimir Klitschko, who hold all of the recognised world titles in the heavyweight division and are a part of Haye's long-term goal, into the ring in the near future.
"I'm absolutely gutted to have to pull out of this fight on 29 June," the former unified cruiserweight champion said in a statement.
"I pick up injuries now and again in training and sometimes carry them into fights, but this was one I simply couldn't recover from in time. I need to rest it up for at least four weeks.
"I apologise to Manuel Charr and to everybody involved with the promotion. But most of all I want to say sorry to the thousands of fans who bought tickets to the fight.
"I felt it was important to let them know about the cancellation as soon as possible, so they can now make other plans.
"As soon as I am told I can resume full training, my loyal fans will be the first to know."
The 32-year-old was looking to use the fight with Charr as a springboard to higher profile bouts.
Had he defeated 28-year-old Lebanon-born fighter, Haye could have fought later this year against another high-ranked opponent in an effort to become a mandatory challenger for one of the Klitschkos' titles.
However, this injury puts Haye's hopes on hold.
He pulled out of a scheduled bout with Vladimir Klitschko with a back complaint in 2009 and, while they faced off two years later, Haye famously cited a toe injury as one of the reasons for a disappointing performance as the Ukrainian cruised to a unanimous decision win at the Imtech Arena in Hamburg.