What a long, strange trip it has been for former two-time world champion Livingstone Bramble, whose latest attempt at a comeback as Ras-I Bramble has been derailed by a most devious rival: flu.

He yesterday withdrew from tonight's card at the Washington Convention Center, where he was to have fought New York's Aristides Acevado in one of six scheduled bouts. The 10-round co-main event has been scrubbed, promoter DeWayne Chambers said, and the feature will be a lightweight bout between Rico Sanchez and Keely Thompson.

"I was just speaking to Bramble's camp and they told me he was too weak to fight," Chambers said.

Chambers had had enough trouble finding a willing opponent for Bramble. The first, Virginia's Daryl Richardson, withdrew because of injury. Replacement Anthony Fletcher of Philadelphia said yes, then changed his mind when he realized whom he would be fighting.

Bramble (34-2, 20 knockouts) first stormed into boxing consciousness when he twice dispatched emerging star Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini five years ago to claim the World Boxing Association lightweight title. His Rastafarian coif and flamboyant entrances into the ring captured the attention of those who had followed the rise of equally mercurial Mancini.

"This is like a bomb that hit me," Chambers said. "I've been in this business a long time, but this is the worst."

Bramble was not available for comment yesterday.

The other main event ran into similar problems, as Rockville's Wilfredo de la Cruz pulled out of his 10-round lightweight bout with Thompson, the Inter-Continental Boxing Council champion.

De la Cruz sprained ligaments in his right elbow sparring this week, a condition that worsened into "severe tendinitis," trainer Bill Green said.

"His right arm was fully extended and he took a hard left right on the elbow," Green said. "He said nothing was wrong, but when he was finished his arm was very swollen."

"Wilfredo was extremely disappointed," Green said. "He's a very macho-type guy. He really wanted to do it anyway."

Chambers said Sanchez (24-14), a New York lightweight, would fight Thompson (24-3, 17 knockouts) in the main event.

Welterweight Otis Bereen (3-5) will meet Michael Ward (1-1) of Fort Washington, James Mullins (4-4) will fight Sylvester Tibbs (3-1) of Washington in a junior middleweight matchup and Paul Nash (3-4) will face Rockville's Les Johnson (6-0) in a welterweight bout.

Nash replaces Daryl Colly of Capitol Heights. Colly also suffered a sparring injury.