Mahmoud (Manuel) Charr suffers yet another knockout blow outside the ring.
BoxingScene.com has learned that the former secondary WBA beltholder has lost out on a chance to face WBA “World” heavyweight titlist Trevor Bryan for the second time in the span of a year. Charr was previously owed a shot at the title he once held but has been removed for failure to provide proof of a P-1 entertainment visa required to travel to the United States for the fight.
Don King Productions (DKP) planned to stage the bout January 29 at Packard Music Hall in Warren, Ohio. The date was established during a December 9 purse bid hearing won by the Hall of Fame promoter with a bid of $1,000,101.80, to be split evenly between Bryan and Charr and from which King was required to submit a 25% non-refundable deposit ($250,025.45).
The purse bid requirements also stipulated that final contracts were to be submitted no later than twenty (20) days after the hearing, and with the fight to take place between 45 and 90 days from December 9. The 20-day deadline came and went without contracts received by the WBA, a factor on which Charr was banking to have the sanctioning body declare a purse bid default.
However, the figurative game of ‘Russian Roulette’ worked against the Syria-born heavyweight now based out of Cologne, Germany.
The purse bid rules also specified that “each fighter, and their respective camps, shall be responsible for obtaining their own passports and all visas required by the country where the bout is to take place, including, but not limited to, work visa (P1 if bout is to take place in the USA), so each [f]ighter is able to participate in the [bout].”
Charr and his team have contended that they are unable to comply with that order without proof of a fight in order to travel to the U.S. Representatives from DKP insist that a contract offer was in fact presented to Charr, but that the 36-year-old heavyweight ultimately overplayed his hand.
It has now cost him the chance to regain the title that was stripped from his possession one year ago.
An eerily similar development played out last January. Charr was due to defend his WBA “World” title versus Bryan (21-0, 15KOs)—who at the time held the now defunct WBA “interim” heavyweight belt—last January 29 at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Both sides contend that the other was unwilling to cooperate, with the matter serving as the subject of an ongoing lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida in Fort Lauderdale.
The fight was to have take place by the January 29, 2021 deadline as imposed by the WBA, who was prepared to have declared a default on a $2,000,000 purse bid offer submitted by King. The sanctioning body went in the other direction, downgrading Charr to “Champion in Recess” while approving a last-minute request by DKP to sanction a vacant WBA “World” heavyweight title fight between Bryan and faded former WBC titlist Bermane Stiverne.
Bryan went on to win by eleventh-round knockout, having not fought since then. The bout was his first since winning the vacant interim title in a fourth-round knockout of BJ Flores in August 2018.
Charr was out of the ring even longer, having never defended the secondary title he won in a twelve-round, unanimous decision over Alexander Ustinov in November 2017. Numerous hiccups even beyond the global pandemic kept him out of the ring for nearly four years, including a positive drug test which he was able to successfully challenge due to a technicality.
The 42-month inactive stretch was broken last May, though oddly in another fight that King attempted to block. Charr headlined a show in his adopted Cologne hometown against then-unbeaten Christopher Lovejoy (19-0, 19KOs at the time; now 20-1, 20KOs), a legend of the Tijuana club circuit who had to ride out the remainder of his contract with DKP to proceed with the fight. Charr won by second-round knockout, after which he has since waited on the opportunity to regain his old title.
That day will likely never come back around, though his legal team will certainly do its best to change that dynamic.
Meanwhile, Bryan (21-0, 15KOs) will remain on the card in a voluntary defense versus an opponent to be named.
The likely replacement is Louisiana’s Jonathan Guidry (17-0-2, 10KOs), an unbeaten but largely unproven heavyweight who has magically appeared in the top 15 of the most recent WBA rankings released at the start of the new year. Guidry was previously due to face 42-year-old Alonzo Butler (34-3-2, 25KOs) on the undercard according to a previous DKP release.
With a win, Bryan will likely have to next face England's Daniel Dubois (17-1, 16KOs), the current number-one contender with the WBA as the result of the sanctioning body removing his previously held "interim" title from circulation last August. A condition of the title reduction policy is that Dubois would be owed a shot at the "World" title, in lieu of Bryan being ordered to next face WBA "Super" champion Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13KOs), who also holds the IBF/WBO/IBO titles and who awaits a rematch with former two-time titlsit Anthony Joshua (24-2, 22KOs).
In the main event, WBC cruiserweight titlist Ilunga ‘Junior’ Makabu (28-2, 25KOs) attempts his second title defense versus mandatory challenger and consensus top ten contender Thabiso Mchunu (23-5, 13KOs). A platform has yet to be assigned to the event, though such details along with ticket information are expected to be announced in the coming days. It will likely air as an independently distributed DKP Pay-Per-View event, as has been the case with the majority of King’s events in recent years, including Bryan’s most recent fight one year ago.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox