Kell Brook's chances of winning a first world title have taken a cruel blow after the undefeated welterweight was forced to pull out of his bout with Devon Alexander after suffering an ankle injury.
It is the second time that Brook has suffered an injury in the build-up to this fight as he first rolled his ankle in December when he was due to meet the American on January 19. Alexander then pulled out of the rearranged February 23 show when he suffered a bicep injury.
Brook had worked his way to become the mandatory challenger for Alexander's IBF strap but there will now be some concern over whether a fourth date will be scheduled.
Promoter Eddie Hearn broke the news and made it clear that he would be working closely with Golden Boy Promotions, who represent Alexander, to try and arrange a new date.
"Kell has recently developed pain in his right foot. Following specialist review and investigations over the last ten days he has been diagnosed with a stress fracture of his right fourth metatarsal and a further injury of his right navicular, both of which require on-going treatment including withdrawal from full training," read a statement from Hearn.
"As a result of these injuries and the time required to recover he has been advised that he will not be medically fit to fight on May 18.
"Obviously this is a huge blow and Kell is devastated but we have had to make the right decision for Kell Brook the fighter. We will speak with Golden Boy and hope to reschedule the bout in the near future."
News of the injury had begun to circulate last week and Alexander's camp showed little sympathy to the undefeated Brit by declaring that they would find a new opponent for May 18 if Brook was unable to fight.
"Can you believe this clown Brook?" said Alexander's trainer Kevin Cunningham. "Devon boxed 10 rounds and is looking sharp. He's ready to go May 18th, with Brook or without him.
"I'm keeping Devon focused on fighting May 18th. If Brook's not ready it's time to move on."