By Jake Donovan
The mystery is over regarding the next opponent for Alexander Povetkin. Strangely enough, confirmation came from the fighter who was squeezed out of the mix.
Next up for the former heavyweight titlist is Germany-based contender Manuel Charr, with the bout to take place May 30 in Russia.
The news confirms a story which first ran on Boxingscene.com last week, where Charr was rumored as the opponent
. The suggestion originated from heavyweight contender Vyacheslav Glazkov, who hoped to land the assignment only to learn that Povetkin's handlers were already looking in another direction.
Charr (26-1, 15KO) comes into the fight riding a five-fight win streak, including a points win over American journeyman Kevin Johnson last month in Germany. Live Povetkin, the lone loss of his career comes at the hands of a Klitschko; Charr has the distinction as the last ever fighter to face - and lose to - Vitali Klitschko, suffering a cut which prompted an anti-climactic stoppage inside of four rounds.
The bout turned out to be the final ring appearance for the elder Klitschko, who announced his retirement more than a year later.
Povetkin (26-1, 18KO) hasn't fought since his loss to lineal World heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko last April.
Charr and Povetkin are familiar with one another, beyond their both serving as heavyweight contenders. Both fighters previously fought under the Sauerland Event banner, although are now represented by different entities these days.
"This will be an awesome fight", says Charr. "I am very proud that I got invited to fight Povetkin and reached an agreement with his handlers. This is my big chance to get in line for another world title shot.
"The winner will move up the WBC ratings to a top position. And one thing I know for sure: If I can beat Povetkin in Moscow, I can and will definitely go on to do what I promised (deceased former longtime WBC President) Don José Sulaiman years ago: I will become heavyweight champion of the world!"
A regional title is at stake, though the bout is by no means a guarantee for the winner to land a shot at the title. Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola contend for the vacant title on May 10 in Los Angeles, with two mandatory challengers already waiting in the wings: Deontay Wilder, as the result of his 1st round knockout of Malik Scott this past March; and the winner of the May 24 showdown between Michael Perez and Bryant Jennings.
Still, a showdown with Povetkin puts Charr's career in the right direction even if it means traveling to his opponent's hometown. On that front, the 29-year old looks forward to redemption - the loss to Klitschko took place in Moscown, his lone fight to date outside of Germany.
"I know Moscow and Moscow knows me", states Charr. "That's why I immediately accepted the offer. I will not feel like fighting abroad. I have so many fans and friends in Moscow that I will turn this into my home crowd. And of course, I am traveling with a big team and entourage.
"Together we will conquer Moscow, beat Povetkin, bring the WBC international championship back to Germany and then go on to become world champion. This fight is the key."
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox