Heavyweight Anthony Joshua has confirmed he has pulled out of his fight with American Kevin Johnson because of a back injury.
Joshua was set to face Johnson at London’s O2 Arena on January 31 but he suffered a Pars Stress Fracture in his back in the build up to the fight.
Promoter Eddie Hearn has revealed that Joshua suffered the problem in training before his last fight against Michael Sprott but he expects him to return to the gym in February.
The 25-year-old had been expected to continue to his fine run after already picking up 10 stoppages wins in his career.
Johnson, a former world title challenger, was set to be his toughest test to date but Joshua insists he needs to get the issue sorted sooner rather than later.
He said: “I trained so hard over Christmas and the press conference with Johnson was so lively that I was really looking forward to putting in a great performance.
“It’s bad news for myself and for the fans that have bought tickets. I hope to be able to put on a fan zone at the weigh-in and the fight itself to meet the fans.
“I will be competing many times this year, but this injury is something that I need to get sorted as soon as possible.”
Joshua is expected to return to the ring on Matchroom’s bill in Newcastle on April 4, but Hearn has confirmed that the January 31 bill will still go ahead.
Kevin Mitchell faces Daniel Estrada in a final eliminator for a world title while middleweight John Ryder takes on Les Sherrington from Australia.