By Jake Donovan
Thanks to a loophole, Manuel Charr will get to keep his portion of the World Boxing Association (WBA) title—as well as plans for an oft-rescheduled clash with Fres Oquendo, as part of a four-man tournament the sanctioning body is prepared to order.
The 34-year old heavyweight was successful in an appeal filed to reverse the WBA’s initial decision to strip him of the sanctioning body’s “regular” heavyweight title.
Charr was removed as champion last November, two months after having tested positive for two separate banned substances through Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) testing protocol ahead of a scheduled September 29 clash with Oquendo.
The test results prompted in the bout being canceled but also allowed for Charr’s “B” sample to be tested. The Germany-based Syrian heavyweight requested as much, but according to language included in the WBA’s resolution—of which BoxingScene.com has obtained a copy—neither he nor any member of his team were properly notified of the WADA-accredited laboratory which conducted such tests.
According to the WBA resolution, “WADA’s rules provide that an athlete has the right to be notified of “the scheduled date, time and place for the B-Sample analysis...” “Doping Control”, Part 1, section 7.3. They also provide that an athlete must be provided notice of “the opportunity for the Athlete and/or the Athlete’s representative to attend the B Sample opening and analysis...” Section 7.3e.
“The second sample opening and testing was presumably conducted at a WADA-approved laboratory. There is no evidence that the laboratory separately informed Charr or his representative of the place, date, and time for opening and testing of the second sample. Neither VADA nor the WBA has adopted the WADA protocols or rules except for the prohibited substances list.”
Charr’s appeal of the WBA ruling was filed under these grounds, along with proof of a clean test result conducted by VADA on September 29, the day of the scheduled fight.
Given the lapse in testing between the “A” and “B” samples of the original test, the WBA had no choice but to rule in favor of reinstating him as the “regular” champ. The official ruling was rendered final on December 18, with the sanctioning body notifying all parties affected—all involved in the still-to-be-rescheduled Charr vs. Oquendo clash, along with interim titlist Trevor Bryan and top contender Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller.
At the time, the filed appeal helped block an attempt to have a November 18 clash between Jarrell Miller and Bogdan Dinu sanctioned as a WBA title fight. Little reasoning was offered beyond a vague explanation at the time, although it’s clear that the WBA wanted time to investigate what have turned out to be valid claims made by Charr.
With his old title now back around his waist, next in line for Charr is to do something he’s yet to—successfully defend it. He has not fought since claiming the belt in a Nov. ’17 12-round decision win over Alexander Ustinov.
The WBA indicated in its final resolution that the “first defense of his title after this reinstatement will be against Oquendo and take place within sixty (60) days of the date of passage,” which would put the deadline at or around mid-February.
Meanwhile, the WBA has ordered another fight in its best efforts to finally consolidate the heavyweight belts. Somewhere along the way, someone in the Panama City office thought it would be wise to make available an interim title fight between Bryan and BJ Flores.
Bryan (20-0, 14KOs) claimed the strap in a 4th round knockout win last August, but hasn’t fought since. The 29-year old heavyweight from Schenectady, New York is now mandated to next face Miller, with no set deadline in place but encouraged by the WBA to take place within the relative time frame of Charr-Oquendo being rescheduled.
The winners will then square off in a consolidation bout between regular and interim titlist. Whomever prevails in that contest will become the mandatory for Anthony Joshua, the unbeaten, unified titlist from England who holds the WBA Super crown among his collection of heavyweight hardware.
An additional condition of Charr’s reinstatement is that he will be required to mandatory drug testing as conducted by VADA. A positive result will result in his being stripped and removed from the rankings altogether. Oquendo, Bryan and Miller will also be subject to VADA-conducted testing for the box-off.