The show will go, or at least what is left of it.
Hall of Fame promoter Don King is moving forward with his scheduled fight card to take place Friday evening at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The show was originally billed as two title fights but is down to one which is still pending, as the title status remains under review by the WBA for a makeshift main event between Trevor Bryan and Bermane Stiverne.
The weigh-in is scheduled to take place Thursday afternoon, closed to the public and to the media though with witnesses on hand.
“I’m on my way there now, I sure hope it’s still taking place,” joked Patrick Cunningham, executive director of the Florida State Boxing Commission in confirming the event to BoxingScene.com.
Canada’s Stiverne (25-4-1, 21KOs) was advanced to the main event in place of Manuel Charr (31-4, 17KOs), the reigning WBA “World” heavyweight titlist who was forced off of the card under circumstances which will undoubtedly result in a forthcoming lawsuit. As previously reported by BoxingScene, King filed an exception with the WBA to demote Charr from WBA titlist to “Champion in Recess”, thus making the vacant “World” title at stake for Friday’s headliner.
The WBA has yet to make a final ruling on the manner, although it should be a slam dunk decision. Stiverne has not won a fight since 2015 and is unranked by the sanctioning body. The former WBC heavyweight titlist has lost three of his last four starts, beginning with a 12-round unanimous decision to Deontay Wilder in their Jan. 2015 title fight.
Stiverne then barely outpointed journeyman Derric Rossy in Nov. 2015 before going two years between fights. He resurfaced in Nov. 2017, replacing Luis Ortiz in a title challenge rematch with Wilder, against whom he was dropped three times en route to a 1st round knockout loss.
In his most recent start, Stiverne was stopped inside of six one-sided rounds by Joe Joyce last February in London.
Bryan (20-0, 14KOs) is the current interim WBA titlist, with the originally scheduled bout versus Charr to have served as a title consolidation clash. The winner would have been recognized as the mandatory challenger to WBA “Super” heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (24-1, 22KOs), a status which at the time was enough motivation for King to win promotional rights to the fight with a $2,000,000 entry submitted in a purse bid hearing held last March.
The bout was delayed several times over before the WBA intervened and forced King’s hand, calling for a hard deadline of Jan. 29, 2021 for the fight to take place before considering a purse bid default.
Since then, has come a series of ridiculous events, even by boxing standards.
Charr spent weeks pleading with King and his team for a countersigned contract in order to obtain a P1 visa for which he was approved. Such a visa is necessary in order for Charr to travel from Cologne, Germany and fight in the U.S. King never complied, as his legal team instead offered stall tactics clearly with the intention of Stiverne—who was originally announced to face boxing underground streaming favorite Christopher Lovejoy (19-0, 19KOs)—being advanced to the main event.
Bryan has not fought since winning his version of the WBA title, coming in a 4th round knockout of BJ Flores in Aug. 2018.
The show’s original chief support was to see Kazakhstan’s Beibut Shumenov defend his version of the WBA cruiserweight titlist versus Raphael Murphy (14-1, 11KOs). Like nearly every other fighter under the Don King Productions banner, Shumenov has been miserably inactive as he has not fought since a 9th round stoppage of Hizni Altunkaya to win the WBA belt in July 2018.
Shumenov has since dropped off the show, with Murphy still without an approved opponent hours before the weigh-in.
Three undercard bouts remain on the card, including Joahnys Argilagos (5-0, 3KOs)—a 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist for Cuba who is now based out of Houston—who faces Ernie Marquez (10-15-2) in a scheduled four-round bantamweight bout.
The show will air live on an independent Pay-Per-View, beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET and which can be purchased through King’s website (DonKing.com) or through Fite TV. The suggested retail price is $19.99, the same price from when the card was first announced and sold as a two-title fight show.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox