Mandatory WBA heavyweight title contender Fres Oquendo is on course to challenge new champion Lucas Browne in the summer, according to manager Tom Tsatas.
Oquendo, who turns 43 on April Fool’s Day, has been lined up for another crack at the WBA belt since losing to Ruslan Chagaev in the summer of 2014, although has been hampered by injuries keeping him out of action.
‘The Big O’ was recently announced in a stipulated tournament to face the winner of last weekend’s world championship fight between Chagaev and Browne, which the challenger won via a tenth round stoppage in Grozny and Tsatas viewed with anticipation.
“We all watched the fight and saw Lucas KO/TKO Chagaev or whatever you want to call it, but it was very exciting,” Tsatas exclusively told World Boxing News.
“Oquendo is now the mandatory in the WBA tournament to crown the sole champion of that organisation. I love that Gilberto (Mendoza, WBA President) has given all these wonderful fighters a fair chance at this.
“I personally thought it was a great fight (between Chagaev and Browne) and shows you how quickly things turn around in the heavyweight division. I thought Chagaev looked out of shape and got caught by a tough, determined contender in Lucas – who was down on the scorecards but never out.
“Browne is not to be underestimated. He is young, (relatively) fresh, strong, tough as nails and certainly hungry and very likeable. He is by far no walk in the park and will be one of our toughest opponents to date. We have an uphill battle for sure. But we love a challenge.”
‘Big Daddy’, along with handlers Matt Clark and Ricky Hatton, have been given until June this year to agree terms with Team Oquendo, which Tsatas firmly believes will be the case.
Possible venues and an exact date have to be thrashed out, together with the all-important terms, which Tsatas sees as mere formalities in what should be straightforward negotiations between both sides.
“It’s a mandatory and I know there are a few places that would want to have this fight. Bobby Hitz and John Wirt (our promoters) know what they are doing. Our attorney’s Judd Burstein and Peter Schalk have us legally covered,” explained Tsatas.
“John works closely with the WBA and (Russian money man, Andrey) Ryabinsky and I know he has an interest in Fres. I have also spoken to David Haye who wants to get involved as well as some people in Qatar and Dubai, so we have options.
“But of course, we would also be open to Australia for several reasons. Respect and a passion for that country, it’s beauty and having its first heavyweight champion, which has to be respected. I’ve always wanted to go there since I was a kid. I love kangaroos and the outback steakhouse, but not so much crocs,” he joked. “Fres loves sharks also, and what a great accent those guys have.
“Everything is on the table. We just need to win two fights (against Browne and the winner of Fury v Klitschko II) and we ride off into the sunset and make our movie. We have been chasing this for ten long years and we are finally here. It’s just that Lucas Browne is blocking the sun for now.
“As far as the date goes, I don’t think that’s a problem. Lucas had a tough fight and looks like he got a cut up and wants that to heal properly, I suspect.
“Fres himself is coming off of surgery, plus there are two fights scheduled to our one in the tourney, so I don’t think Lucas or Fres want to rush into a fight and just wait for the other side to stay active.
“I think the promoters on both sides, as well as my friend and Lucas’ manager Matt, have a great relationship and will come to an agreement where everything is fair and everyone is happy. They are good blokes as they say.
“I would foresee a summer fight where both guys are at their best and tip top shape. And trust me it will be a great fight between these guys, that I guarantee. I also guarantee neither Lucas or Fres will be punching themselves in the face with uppercuts like Fury and Wlad did in their fights.
“And we have a secret weapon that nobody knows about but will soon find out,” added Tsatas.