On September 29th, the ‘Diamond Boy’ will defend his title for the first time at Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany, when he faces mandatory challenger Fres Oquendo.
The Puerto Rican who lives in Chicago and trains in Miami is a true ring veteran who has faced legends such as Evander Holyfield, Chris Byrd and David Tua in his more-than-20-year career.
When facing Charr, Oquendo wants to fulfill his lifelong dream and finally become Champion of the World.
‘I still feel that I beat Byrd,’ says Oquendo. ‘I should have been World Champion by then. But the judges must have watched a different fight. I was disappointed but there was nothing I could do about it. So I carried on and waited for another shot.’
It wasn’t the only time that Oquendo was on the wrong end of a poor decision. In November 2006, he faced legendary former World Champ Evander Holyfield in front of 10,000 fans at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
‘I had a bad fever leading up to the fight so I knew I could not be at one hundred percent but when you get the chances to face one of the best boxers of all times you don’t let it go,’ says Oquendo. ‘And I got robbed again.
‘Despite my illness, I clearly dominated the fight and should have won it but the judges gave it to the bigger name.“
Holyfield went on to fight Sultan Ibragimov and Nikolay Valuev in World Championship bouts while Oquendo had to work his way through the rankings yet again.
His endurance finally paid off when he got the chance to face Ruslan Chagaev fort he vacant WBA World Heavyweight title in July 2014. But again Oquendo lost a close decision.
‘It was a difficult fight for me,’ says Oquendo. ‘My wife was pregnant and our baby was due so I couldn’t travel to Russia until the day before the fight.
‘I literally arrived in time for the weigh-in and had to fight with a terrible jet lag. Still I was the better man. But Chagaev was a close friend of President Ramsan Kadyrov who hosted the event and also showed up in Chagaev’s corner.
‘I want to thank President Kadyrov and his staff for their hospitality. It was an unforgettable experience but I think I should have won the fight. The WBA felt the same way and granted me a rematch which didn’t happen because Chagaev decided to retire.’
Oquendo has been waiting for his next chance since then – and ‘The Big O’ knows that it will most probably be his last shot at a World title.
‘I have no illusions. I am not getting younger,’ says Oquendo. ‘So for me it is: Now or never!
‘I am looking forward to the fight and I thank Manuel Charr and his team for the opportunity. This will be my big day. I know it.
‘I like and respect Manuel for all that he has achieved. But his fairy tale will come to an end on September 29th and I will finally lead my own story to the well deserved happy ending.’
The WBA World Heavyweight Championship between Manuel Charr and Fres Oquendo will be presented by Global Sports Management & Diamondboypromotion in association with Roy Jones, Jr.‘s Square Ring Promotions and Bobby Hitz’ Hitz Boxing.
Tickets are on sale at www.koelnticket.de under www.koelnticket.de/manuel-charr-tickets. Sky will broadcast the event live in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.