Heavyweight Mike Perez has suffered a shoulder injury during training that has forced the cancellation of his scheduled HBO-televised May 24 fight against Bryant Jennings that was slated for the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas, promoter Gary Shaw announced on Friday.
"I was floored when I got the call this morning from Perez's manager Patrick Thomas that he injured his shoulder in sparring. Mike is flying back to Ireland to see a shoulder specialist," Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions, which handles Perez.
"I'm hoping to hear good news that the injury is not too serious and the fight can be rescheduled in the near future. I know Mike is devastated because of this setback but looks forward to continuing his dream of marching toward a WBC world title fight."
The bout between Perez (20-0-1, 12 knockouts) and Jennings (18-0, 10 KOs) represented a second mandatory eliminator for the WBC. In the first mandatory, a rematch of Bermane Stiverne's unanimous decision win in April of last year over Chris Arreola, Stiverne (23-1-1, 20 KOs) faces Arreola (36-3, 31 KOs) on Saturday at the Galen Center on the USC campus in Los Angeles for the WBC's title that was vacated by Vitali Klitschko.
The winner between Stiverne and Arreola, who suffered a broken nose from a third-round knockdown during their initial bout, must make his first defense against Deontay Wilder (31-0, 31 KOs), who is coming off a 96-second stoppage of Malik Scott in March.
The victor between Wilder and the Stiverne-Arreola winner had been mandated to face that between Perez and Jennings, according to WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman.
"I've been told that Mike Perez has injured his shoulder, and we're going to request a medical certificate. We're going to check back on the issues with the promoters and see if they want to reschedule or if the fight is completely canceled," said Sulaiman.
"We will have to see how long Perez is going to be out and all of those matters. I'm really sorry about this, because this was shaping up as something that was going to bring a lot of attention to the heavyweight division. We will see what happens."
Jennings scored a 10th-round stoppage of southpaw Artur Szpilka in his last fight in January, one day after Perez battled once-beaten Carlos Takam to a draw.
"When I received the news this afternoon that Perez got injured I felt so bad for Bryant because I know how hard he trained for this fight and how much he was looking forward to fighting for this WBC elimination bout," said Shaw, who promotes Jennings. "I'm hope for that Perez's is minor and we can get these guys back in the ring in a timely manner."
Shaw said that the entire card has been canceled, including the supporting middleweight bout between ex-beltholder Daniel Geale (30-2, 16 KOs) and former title challenger Matthew Macklin (30-5, 20 KOs).
"The whole card is canceled. I hope to reschedule the heavyweight fight for some time this summer, but I don't know the extent of Perez's injury," said Shaw. "I feel badly for Daniel Geale and I feel terrible for Jennings. It was a big opportunity for them on HBO. I'm going to try to reschedule, but until we find out the extent of Perez's injury, I can't make the next step."