WBA World heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev (34-2-1, 21 KOs), from, Hamburg, Germany, by way of Andijan, Uzbekistan, has been a titleholder in search of a challenger.
“White Tyson” won the vacant WBA World title in July 2014 by defeating Fres Oquendo by majority decision (the final scores were 114-114 and 115-113 twice). In the first defense of his crown a year later, Chagaev demolished Francesco Pianeta (31-1-1 coming in), scoring a first round knockout.
The champ was supposed to fight Lucas “Big Daddy” Browne, the undefeated slugger from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. But Oquendo petitioned and was granted a rematch. The WBA Championship Committee issued a resolution directing Chagaev to face Oquendo on or before November 11, 2015. The bout was scheduled for October 17, 2015 in Kiel, Germany, with the winner, or Chagaev if the fight was ruled a draw, to face #3 ranked Lucas Browne.
Then the trouble started.
In late September/early October 2015, Oquendo suffered a shoulder injury while sparring which caused the cancellation of the fight. The WBA received a communication from Anthony A. Romero, MD on October 29, 2015, explaining that he examined Oquendo, viewed his recent MRI, and had no choice but to schedule arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder for November 17, 2015. Dr. Romero wrote that he believed Oquendo would be able to return to the gym to resume training in three months after the operation and compete in a boxing match six months after the operation.
In accordance with WBA Rule C.13, sixty days is the mandatory length of time for a champion to defend his title and is limited to fighting only a mandatory contender or leading available contender during that time period.
WBA Rule C.16 allows the WBA to modify periods for mandatory defenses for good cause, either in response to a request for a Special Permit or on its own initiative.
According to WBA Championship Committee Chairman, Gilberto Jesus Mendoza Jr., “Based upon the medical report from Oquendo’s doctors, Oquendo will not be fit to fight until at least May 2016. It is unclear whether this means fit to fight in any boxing match, or fit to fight for the world heavyweight title.
“In any event, Oquendo is unavailable due to his injury, so Chagaev will face Lucas Browne as his mandatory defense.”