Despite being shot in the stomach and having a double hip-replacement operation in the past two years, Germany’s Manuel Charr is determined to become a world heavyweight champion later today.
Charr, 33, faces 40-year-old giant Russian Alexander Ustinov in Oberhausen and is adamant he will leave the ring with the vacant WBA "regular" world heavyweight belt.
Britain’s Anthony Joshua is the reigning WBA Super heavyweight champion, meaning that this fight is effectively for a secondary world title.
“I’m going to be world champion — that’s a promise,” Charr said at the pre-fight press conference, having won 30 of his bouts with four defeats.
His most famous clash was in 2012 when he was stopped by ex-WBC champion Vitali Klitschko in the fourth round of his only previous world-title fight.
The Beirut-born fighter, who was brought up in Berlin and Essen, has suffered recent setbacks that could have ended the career of a less-determined boxer.
In September 2015, he was left fighting for his life after being shot in the stomach following an altercation at a kebab restaurant in Essen. Charr returned to the ring just seven months later, bearing the scars of the attack on his abdomen.
“It was said at the time that I’d never box again,” he said.
Then came another setback earlier this year when both hips were replaced.
“The doctors diagnosed congenital hip dysplasia — I had the mobility in the joints of an 80-year-old,” he said.
But now all that stands in his way of becoming a world champion is Alexander “The Great” Ustinov.
The nickname refers to Ustinov’s size as much as his wins, with 25 knockouts in 34 victories against just one loss, when he was beaten by Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev in 2012. At 202cm tall and weighing 136kg, the Russian is 10cm taller and considerably heavier than his opponent.
Charr has described Ustinov as the “bear” he will hunt in the ring.
“I do not know fear — fear is a feeling and I can control that,” said Charr, who is relishing fighting in front of a German crowd. “I’m a fighter, I’m always on top.”