WBC lightweight champion Jorge Linares (40-3, 27 KOs) reportedly suffered an injury in training camp this week, fracturing his right hand which has forced him to withdraw from his mandatory title defense against Dejan Zlaticanin (21-0, 14 KOs), according to Golden Boy VP Eric Gomez. Although Linares-Zlaticanin did not have an venue or date set in stone, their fight was going to take place sometime in April on a Showtime card promoted by Lou DiBella, Zlaticanin's promoter.
Eric Gomez is still awaiting a complete medical report from doctors to see how long Linares will be sidelined for, and also so he can pass along the word to WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman who will have to determine what he wants do about the mandatory situation.
It's possible that Sulaiman decides to strip Linares of the green belt, paving way for Zlatcanin to face the next leading contender Emiliano Marsili for the would-be vacant title. Under that scenario, Linares would also likely be able to face the winner of that fight upon his return, in a chance to regain his title.
A frustrated Lou DiBella indicates that he believes that Linares and his promoter Golden Boy never really wanted to face Zlaticanin, and that they might be looking at opportunities to fight for another organization's belt than face his fighter.
"I was told by people on my side of the table this fight wouldn't happen when we made the deal and now it's not happening," DiBella said. "The whole way everything went down makes me skeptical. But we hope to fight Linares and the proof will be in the pudding. When he is ready to come back will he fight us? We'll see. If he doesn't, there you go. This is very disappointing."
Eric Gomez disputes this claim, however, saying that Linares was anxious to get a fight date nailed down and that he was in fact looking forward to the fight.