Per RDS (link in French), the upcoming bout between Sakio Bika and Jesse Brinkley has been cancelled for the time being. The two were scheduled to face each other in an IBF super middleweight title eliminator on May 28. However, Brinkley came down with a severe case of the flu and was unable to train for a couple of weeks. He was only cleared by his doctors to train a few days ago, and it just wasn't sufficient for a fight of this magnitude.
The fight was to be one of the season's better headliners for ESPN's Friday Night Fights. The card itself, scheduled to be held in Quebec City's Pepsi Colosseum, has not been cancelled. Over 7,000 tickets have already been sold for the card. The card's new headliner will be the fight between Montreal transplant Librado Andrade and Montreal native Eric Lucas. Former title challenger Benoit Gaudet is likely to slide into the main undercard slot, although prospect Pier Olivier Cote is also scheduled to fight on the card.
As if Sakio Bika's career hasn't been snakebitten enough. Since winning season three of the TV series "The Contender", Bika has only fought three times in the 2 1/2 years since the show, obliterating Peter Manfredo and defeating a couple of no-name Argentinians in his adopted home country of Australia. It's not for lack of trying - he's had several fights cancelled for various reasons and was calling out just about everyone in the super middleweight division when the Super Six was started without him. Most recently, Bika was supposed to face Allan Green for the right to replace Jermain Taylor in the Super Six tournament, but Bika was forced to pull out for unspecified reasons.
The one potentially good thing about this cancellation is that it gives Lucian Bute an opponent for his next fight. Romanian news sources have reported that Bute having his next title defense in Romania in July is almost a done deal. Bute's team made an offer to Robert Stieglitz for unification, but was turned down. A number of other top fighters are unavailable due to participation in the Super Six tournament. Since the IBF requires its titlists to defend against a top 15 fighter, there were pretty slim pickings for who the fight could be against - luminaries such as Brian Magee, Jean Paul Mendy and Les Sherrington.
With Sakio Bika suddenly available, there is now a legitimate option for Bute to rematch Bika in Romania. Bika is still ranked as the #5 super middleweight in the world by Ring Magazine. While Bute did defeat Bika convincingly once before, that fight was several years ago, and both fighters seem to have improved since then. Furthermore, Bika had one of the stranger excuses for a poor fight, claiming that he'd almost drowned the day before the Bute fight since he went into a swimming pool to cool off after training but didn't know how to swim. With everyone else in the Ring magazine top 8 occupied by the Super Six, #9 having refused a fight, and #10 (Andrade) coming off a loss to Bute, this is absolutely the best fight that can be made for Bute, and nobody should blame him for taking this rematch, should it come off.