A fractured left thumb has knocked former junior welterweight world titleholder Viktor Postol out of a vacant interim title bout against Regis Prograis on March 9, but Prograis will still take a big step up in opposition against replacement opponent Julius Indongo, who also is a former world titlist.
Prograis and Indongo will now headline the Showtime-televised card (10 p.m. ET/PT) at the Deadwood Mountain Grand in Deadwood, South Dakota.
Lou DiBella, who promotes Prograis and signed Indongo in early January, told ESPN on Monday that Postol suffered the injury last Wednesday and that he was notified over the weekend.
"I feel badly for Postol," DiBella said. "The WBC and Showtime approved former world champion Julius Indongo to replace him and fight for the interim title."
Indongo (22-1, 11 KOs), a 2008 Namibian Olympian and former unified 140-pound world titleholder who turned 35 on Monday, lost both of his belts by third-round knockout to Terence Crawford in their undisputed title world championship fight on Aug. 19. DiBella said Indongo was training for his return fight, which was supposed to take place on one of DiBella's "Broadway Boxing" club shows in March.
"He was preparing for a comeback fight, but obviously this opportunity knocked," DiBella said. "Regis wanted the kind of opponent who would help him make a statement. He has that in Postol and now he has it with Indongo. It's one former world champion stepping in for another one. Postol and Indongo both have strong résumés with their only losses coming to 'Bud' Crawford. So things have worked out as well as they could."
Prograis (20-0, 17 KOs), a 29-year-old southpaw from New Orleans who relocated to Houston in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, scored his most notable win in June when he knocked out then-undefeated Joel Diaz Jr. in the second round. Prograis has scored knockouts in 13 of his last 14 fights.
Postol (29-1, 12 KOs), 34, of Ukraine, won a vacant junior welterweight world title when he knocked out Lucas Matthysse in the 10th round of an upset in October 2015. But Postol lost the belt in his first defense when he was dominated in a one-sided decision loss to Crawford in a July 2016 title unification fight.
"With respect to Victor Postol, we hope he recovers quickly and there's a possibility that the winner of the fight will fight him eventually," DiBella said. "It isn't like anything got easier for Regis Prograis with this change of opponent. This is still the toughest opponent of his career."
The Prograis-Indongo winner will await a mandatory fight against the winner of the vacant full title fight between Jose Ramirez (21-0, 16 KOs) and Amir Imam (21-1, 18 KOs), who are scheduled to fight March 17 in the main event of a Top Rank on ESPN card at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The co-feature of the March 9 car remains a junior welterweight title elimination bout between Ivan "The Beast" Baranchyk (17-0, 10 KOs), of Russia, and Sweden's Anthony Yigit (21-0-1, 7 KOs). DiBella said heavyweight prospect Junior Fa (13-0, 8 KOs) of New Zealand is also likely to be added to the telecast against an opponent to be determined.