EXCLUSIVE: Manuel Charr reacts to WBA decision, Fres Oquendo order
Manuel Charr has opened up to WBN following the World Boxing Association’s decision to clear him of any wrongdoing over an adverse drug test.
Charr was provisionally suspended amidst an ongoing investigation before a planned mandatory fight with Fres Oquendo back in September.
Protesting his innocence at the time, Charr was forced to seek legal action to fight the claims.
After months of detailed explanation and presenting his case, Charr was finally confirmed as the WBA ‘regular’ champion this week.
Oquendo, who has been mandated challenger for four years, will now get his chance to face Charr in March.
Reacting to the ruling by the WBA, Charr was happy everything was now resolved.
“I said all the time that I am a fair sportsman. I have never taken anything. The positive A sample was a shock for my team and me,” Charr exclusively told World Boxing News.
“It was like a nightmare. But I am happy that we all woke up, and this whole story is over now.
“I am the WBA World Heavyweight Champion, and that is what matters to me.”
Asked how he felt after losing four months of his career to the WBA scrutinization, Charr replied: “Of course, I would have loved to fight back in September. And the time of uncertainty was hell. But what can you do about it?
“For now, I don’t look back. I rather focus on what is ahead of me. And that is a very important World Championship fight.”
Veteran Oquendo won a court case to be given another chance at the title. This was following a broken promise by then title-holder Ruslan Chagaev before their fight.
Facing a family crisis, Oquendo was on the verge of pulling out of the contest set for July 6, 2014, in Grozny. Chagaev’s team persuaded Oquendo to fly over from Miami on the premise he’d be given a rematch as he wasn’t fully prepared.
Winning via a close majority decision, Chagaev and his representatives got accused of backing out of the deal.
The Uzbek was afforded two defenses due to an injury to Oquendo and eventually lost his belt to Lucas Browne.
‘Big Daddy’ was then suspended and stripped for a failed test of his own. The WBA attempted to switch back to Chagaev.
Deciding to retire rather than fight Oquendo again, Shannon Briggs (📸 Ralph Notaro) was then drafted as the replacement for the ‘White Tyson.’
Amazingly, Briggs, too, failed a test. But as Oquendo waited for news, Charr and Alexander Ustinov successfully lobbied for their fight for the long-standing vacant strap.
This was again on the agreement that Oquendo would get the winner. Charr won and had arranged to trade blows with Oquendo for last September. This happened before he was flagged.
The whole situation has been frustrating for Oquendo as well. ‘The Big O’ was 41 at the time of the Chagaev fight. Through injuries and not wanting to take the risk of losing his shot, Oquendo is now approaching 46 years old.
A win (and if recognized as a world title triumph), Oquendo has the chance to become the oldest world heavyweight champion of all time as a victory would see off George Foreman’s 1990’s record by one month.
Intent on disappointing Oquendo after his long wait, Charr admitted he’s unsure what kind of opponent to expect after so long.
“Of course, we all know that he hasn’t been in the ring for many years, so I really don’t know what’s coming. But I have no choice. It’s an ordered fight, and I know that I have to get past him for bigger things to come,” stated the 34-year-old.
“I said it before, and I will repeat it, Fres is a very strong opponent. He has always been underrated throughout his career.
“The Klitschkos know why they never fought him. He has an awkward style and is very difficult to box.
“But as I said before, it doesn’t make things easier for me because Fres is very unpredictable. I guess he has been in the gym for the last years, but who knows?”
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay.