Zhankosh Turarov was noticeably absent from Friday’s weigh-In, as will be the case on Saturday when he is unable to make his way to the ring.

The unbeaten junior welterweight from Kazakhstan was forced to drop out of his planned regional title fight with Belfast’s Tyrone McKenna after testing positive for Covid-19. News of the development came hours before the two were due to collide Saturday at Caesars Palace Dubai in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

“I will not be able to participate in the tournament due to the coronavirus,” Turarov confessed on Saturday through social media. “Upon arrival in Dubai, I started experiencing symptoms of withdrawal, fever and shortness of breath. After the obligatory PCR for the fight on April 1, I tested positive. I was isolated in a hotel room, this was the reason for my absence from the weigh-in. 

“However, despite this, I trained and ran inside the hotel room all these days, I kept in shape even though I was sick, and weighed in isolated conditions. After that I insisted on passing the second test. Unfortunately, it also showed a positive result, and understanding my responsibility to others, and also due to the forced isolation, I was removed from the fight. If not for this, I would’ve destroyed my opponent in three rounds, even in my current condition.”

Turarov (24-0, 17KOs) was not present for Friday’s weigh-in, with on-site handlers suggesting he was struggling to make weight and was permitted extra time “to shed those last few ounces.” It was later announced that he came in right at the 140-pound limit.

McKenna (21-2-1, 6KOs) weighed 139.6 pounds and was understandably let down by the 11th hour cancellation.

“Gutted with the news my fight has been called off,” McKenna offered upon learning the news. “Trained my balls off and spent 11 weeks away from my kids. Diet like f-ck to get to 63.5 kg. and spent a fortune in camp. All for nothing.”

McKenna will now remain limited to cheering on his countryman, former two-division titlist Carl Frampton (28-2, 16KOs) in his challenge of WBO junior lightweight titlist Jamel Herring. The scheduled 12-round bout headlines on ESPN+ in the United States (4:00 p.m. ET) and Channel 5 in the United Kingdom (10:00 p.m. BST).

Herring (22-2, 10KOs) attempts the third defense of his crown, while Frampton aims to become the first-ever three-division titlist to come out of Northern Ireland.

As for Turarov and McKenna making their way back to the boxing schedule, D4G Boxing announced that “a new date will be announced for the fight in due course.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox