Fans were left somewhat disappointed at the news German veteran Juergen Braehmer was forced to pull out of his scheduled World Boxing Super Series semi-final during fight week.
Ex-world champion Braehmer was due to be matched up with Callum Smith for a potential place in the final opposite George Groves until a devastating setback struck.
Reserve fighter Nieky Holzken has since been drafted in to save the show and is a now a massive underdog to beat Smith in Nuremberg.
Questions have been immediately raised as to why the fight was made, whilst others are asking who Holzken is and whether the clash is still expected to be on Pay-Per-View in the UK..
WBN attempts to answer some of those below:
Why is Smith v Holzken happening?
It’s a regular feature in tournament boxing to keep the format alive instead of postponing. The rigidness of ending the competition on a certain date mean back-ups must be in place.
Higher profile fighters would be tough to secure in a substitute capacity, which is why Holzken was in a position to earn a place in such a lucrative fight bracket.
Last week in Manchester, Zach Parker fought as a reserve and would have replaced either George Groves or Chris Eubank Jr. if they had pulled out like Braehmer did.
Braehmer has been suffering from influenza and yesterday revealed he would be unable to compete.
“I have been battling a feverish infection since Sunday,” said Braehmer.
“Unfortunately, a fight in this state is out of the question. It is not possible for me to go into the ring like this and I would like to apologise to my fans. I was well prepared and looking forward to fighting Callum.”
Holzken was already on standby as the reserve for Smith v Braehmer, and as the tournament’s Chief Boxing Officer Kalle Sauerland explains he will now have the opportunity to earn a place opposite WBA & IBO World Champion George Groves in the final.
“It is unfortunate for Braehmer particularly after such as strong showing in his quarter-final fight with Rob Brant,” said Kalle Sauerland. “Fortunately, we are prepared for such eventualities and the tournament will move forward with our reserve fighter Nieky Holzken facing Callum Smith in our fourth semi-final.”
Who is Nieky Holzken?
Predominantly known as a kickboxer, Holzken has fought 13 times in a professional boxing ring knocking out 10 opponents. He’s from the Netherlands and is a seven-time kickboxing world champion.
Is the fight a mismatch?
Bookmakers odds suggest so. Holzken is a far higher bet to defeat Smith.
Holzken holds a career-best win over Viktor Polyakov, whom it can be argued is European level.
As the 34 year-old is yet to be tested fully at world title class, it’s hard to gauge whether his punching power alone gives him any chance against Smith, who on paper should win comfortably.
The Dutchman had been preparing to face Russia’s Dmitrii Chudinov, but insists he is ready to gatecrash the World Boxing Super Series party.
“I’ve been waiting for this chance to come,” said Holzken. “I signed up as a substitute fighter so I’m in great shape and prepared for Saturday. I’ve watched Callum fight many times. I study everyone in my weight division. He’s a good, solid fighter. We’re both big body punchers. It will make for an excellent fight.
“Callum, you better be ready, because I am, and I’m coming to beat you!”
Who does Smith feel about the situation?
The current WBC Diamond Champion, Smith and his trainer Joe Gallagher have spent the last months preparing for veteran southpaw Braehmer.
“I gave an interview last week and said it’s great there have been no drop-outs,” said Smith. “Looks like I spoke too soon.”
“We got the call as we were boarding the plane. I am committed to fighting on Saturday and will fight whoever the World Boxing Super Series puts in front of me.”
Is the fight still Pay-Per-View in the UK?
As things stand, ITV Box Office announced no changes to this Saturday’s transmission and you are able to purchase the fight for £9.95 here.