HELSINKI (AP) – Ruslan Chagaev failed a “medical requirement” on Friday, forcing his challenge for Nikolai Valuev’s WBA heavyweight title to be called off a day before the fight.

Finnish officials said “Chagaev has been unable to fulfill the Finnish Boxing Federation’s medical requirements” but gave no further details.

“It was a big shock for us today,” said Wilfried Sauerland, Valuev’s manager.

Federation president Pertti Augustin and press spokesman Pekka Kaidesoja refused to offer explanations, saying “it’s against Finnish law to do so.”

Chagaev would have earned 55 percent of the $2.8 million purse.

It’s the third time their rematch has been canceled since Chagaev gave the 7-foot Russian his only pro defeat in April 2007. The previous two rematches were called off because Chagaev ruptured an Achilles’ tendon in training.

After Chagaev, as WBA titleholder, withdrew from the two scheduled rematches he was named “champion in recess,” and the WBA vacated the title.

Because of that status, Chagaev had to fight Valuev by the end of June.

Chagaev’s status remained unclear on Friday.

“It’s a decision that the board of the directors of the WBA has to make,” sanctioning body official George Martinez said. “We will meet as soon as possible and address the problem. We have to collect all the facts and in a proper time we’ll make a decision.”

Valuev won the vacant title last August by beating American John Ruiz in Berlin. Four months later, he defended the title against 46-year-old Evander Holyfield, who had arrived in Helsinki earlier Friday for the scheduled bout dubbed “The Revenge of the Giant.”

Chagaev returned from his injuries in February and won a technical decision over Carl Davis Drumond at Rostock, Germany – the Uzbekistan-born boxer’s first fight in more than a year.

The bout Saturday at 15,000-seat Hartwall Arena would have been only the second world title fight in the Finnish capital. Davey Moore of the United States knocked out Olli Maki of Finland in 1962 to retain his world featherweight title.

Associated Press Writer Matti Huuhtanen contributed to this report.

AP-ES-05-29-09 1720EDT

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