The boxing card being billed as "The Return of the Kings" will be returning one fewer king. Takoma Park's Sharmba Mitchell, the World Boxing Council junior welterweight champion, severely strained a muscle in his rib cage during training last Wednesday and has been taken off the bill for Friday night's fights at MCI Center.

"I went to throw a left uppercut, and as I pulled around my body I just felt this sharp pain in my ribs," said Mitchell (45-2), who was set to defend his title against Venezuelan Elio Ortiz (17-3), the WBC's third-ranked contender. "I thought I cracked my ribs at first, it hurt so much. It hurts to breathe right now."

The Mitchell-Ortiz bout was one of three title fights scheduled to be televised on Showtime. Washington's Keith Holmes (33-2) will defend his WBC middleweight belt against Lanham's Andrew Council (30-6-3) in what will be the second meeting between the fighters (Holmes won the first fight five years ago). World Boxing Association middleweight champion William Joppy (27-1-1), of Silver Spring, will also make a title defense against Dominican Julio Cesar Green (25-3) in what will be the third meeting between the two. Each has taken a decision, Joppy winning the last time they met, in January 1998.

A Showtime spokeswoman said the cable network will air only the Holmes-Council and Joppy-Green fights and is discussing shortening its MCI broadcast from two hours to 90 minutes, going from 8 to 9:30 p.m.

Mitchell, who suffered the injury while sparring with Palmer Park's Curtis Peoples at the Laurel Boys and Girls Club, said he tried to continue training Thursday but the pain in his left side was too intense. He was X-rayed and examined Friday by physician Steven Radley at Laurel Regional Hospital and was told to rest the muscle for at least three weeks.

"I tried to work out Friday and it hurt just to lift my arm," said Mitchell, adding that he would be getting a second opinion today from physician James Diggs at Howard University Hospital. "I was just boxing, doing what I do. I get on my motorcycle and nothing happens to me, but I get in the ring and start boxing and this happens. I'm real disappointed."

Bobby Goodman, vice president of boxing operations for Don King Productions, Mitchell's promoter, said no date has been set for rescheduling his title defense.

"If he takes three weeks off, then gets back in the gym for three weeks, at the very least we're looking at something by November," Goodman said.

Trinidad on the Way

King, promoting Friday's show, is expected to arrive in the Washington area Thursday with newly crowned WBC welterweight champion Felix "Tito" Trinidad in tow. One person keeping a watchful eye on Trinidad these days is Capitol Heights's Derrell Coley, the WBC's top-ranked challenger to the title Trinidad (36-0) won from Oscar De La Hoya on Saturday night in Las Vegas.

Coley (34-1-2) has been the mandatory challenger to the WBC champion for close to a year. When the deadline for the fight with the titleholder (then De La Hoya) came and went in June, Coley kept quiet. He wasn't offered step-aside money. He didn't file any lawsuits. He just waited.

"He knew [Trinidad-De La Hoya] was the fight the public wanted to see," said Dan Goossen, president of America Presents, which promotes Coley. "But now he wants his shot. He's waited, been patient. We feel very confident that WBC will stand behind us and order Trinidad to fight Derrell within 90 days.

"And we will do whatever we need to do to make sure that happens."

Goossen and Coley have met with WBC President Jose Sulaiman, and Goossen is expected to have further conversations at the WBC's annual convention, which starts Sunday in Moscow. Goossen said he will know when Coley's next fight is for certain when he returns.

The King folks in Trinidad's camp, however, are already talking about what (or who) might be next for the new champ -- and Coley's name wasn't the first mentioned.

"Tito's been a welterweight for a long time," Goodman said. "He has mentioned that he would like to move up in weight. He's also talked about unifying the welterweight belt. So that would make [WBA champ] James Page a natural possibility. And there's all this talk about a rematch with Oscar, too."

Trinidad, the reigning International Boxing Federation champ, added De La Hoya's WBC belt to his collection with Saturday's decision.

"We're very interested in a rematch, of course," Goodman said. "We could do it in six months, we could do it a year from now. The only thing we would ask is that everything on the contracts be reversed."

By that, Goodman was referring to De La Hoya's $21 million purse for Saturday's fight compared with Trinidad's $8.5 million.

Boxing Data

Where: MCI Center.

When: Friday; doors open at 4:30 p.m. (main event will not start before 8).

TV: Showtime, 8 p.m.

Featured fights: William Joppy (27-1-1), Silver Spring, vs. Julio Cesar Green (25-3), Dominican Republic, for Joppy's WBA middleweight title; Keith Holmes (33-2), Washington, vs. Andrew Council (30-6-3), Lanham, for Holmes's WBC middleweight title.

On the undercard: Bouts include local fighters DeMarcus Corley, Vincent White, Sammy Retta and Norman Smith.

Tickets: Available ($25-$300).