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The heavyweight ‘champ’ who didn’t defend the title in three years

World Boxing News looks at the heavyweight champion who ruled from 2017 to 2021 without defending the belt once.

Astonishingly, Mahmoud Charr can win the ‘title’ yet not put it on the line for over three years.

That’s what has happened in the curious case of the man formerly known as Manuel – the WBA regular belt holder.

Charr claimed the strap on November 25th of, 2017. He defeated Alexander Ustinov via a twelve-round unanimous decision in Oberhausen, Germany.

By lifting the little-regarded crown at the Koenig Pilsener Arena, Charr put himself in the frame for some significant challenges to come.

A defenseless heavyweight champion

But the sad fact is Charr didn’t grace the ring again for over three and a half years. His title didn’t go up for grabs in three years and two months.

His opponent, Ustinov, competed three times in the interim as Charr’s career stalled. This problem arose due to an impending and ordered fight against his then-WBA mandatory, Trevor Bryan.

Before the 2019 Bryan order, Charr was locked in talks with Fres Oquendo. A former number contender who won a court case to fight for the WBA ‘regular’ belt despite being out of action since 2014.

Legal battles eventually took Oquendo an age in his pursuit. And by the time the fight could happen, ‘The Big O’ was too old.

Therefore, the WBA moved on to stipulate Charr must face Bryan. Finally, a deal was struck for 2020 despite Oquendo previously challenging that ruling too.

Don King paid an eye-watering 2 million dollars at a Panama purse bid to stage the contest.

Mahmoud Charr Manuel Charr Heavyweight

Team Charr

As the boxing world held its breath that Charr would put his strap on the line once and for all, the coronavirus struck and put the breaks on again.

This meant Charr faced the real possibility he could not fight until the end of the year – a complete three-year absence since winning the title.

The Oquendo curse was passed on to Charr, keeping the WBA ‘regular’ crown out of commission. Eventually, the WBA stripped Charr when his visa failed for a January 2021 clash with Bryan in Miami.

Bryan won it and lost it dismally to the current occupier Daniel Dubois. The belt will hopefully be out of existence shortly.

WBA ‘Regular’ title

The second top division crown was created in 2011 when David Haye and Wladimir Klitschko fought for the ‘super’ version for the first time.

Alexander Povetkin was then recognized as the maiden holder of the regular belt.

Since Povetkin, the WBA has faced an uphill battle persuading anyone that the ‘regular’ title is a bonafide championship. Not many in the sport are having any of it.

It was assumed that the WBA would push the ‘regular’ holder to an eventual meeting with the ‘super’ champion, like a stepping stone to the main title. However, since Povetkin lost to Klitschko and the WBA declared the ‘regular’ vacant, the champion has never been led to believe they’d get a full shot.

Splitting the sanctioning fees for heavyweight bouts is lucrative for the WBA. But consistently leaving champions on the shelf for two years and more is no way to make any money.

It’s hoped the mess will be sorted out once and for all when Dubois finally gets his shot at the champion. Hopefully, then comes the complete and overdue disbandment of the title altogether.

Follow experienced boxing writer Phil Jay on Twitter @PhilJWBN. Follow WBN: Facebook, Insta, Twitter