After waiting more than two years for his next fight, the last thing that Trevor Bryan and his team want to hear about is yet another delay.
The unbeaten heavyweight remains convinced that his next fight will in fact take place Jan. 29th, officially in a World Boxing Association (WBA) title consolidation clash with Germany’s Manuel Charr. The status of that fight has remained in doubt from the moment it was first ordered and even after it was formally announced by promoter Don King, who plans to stage the event on an independent Pay-Per-View telecast.
Charr (31-4, 17KOs) has joined the masses of industry skeptics who question whether the event will really take place. The long-reigning secondary WBA titlist remains in Germany, with his P1 travel visa status in limbo as he is required to travel from Germany to Hollywood, Florida.
Instead have come accusations from the Charr camp that King has failed to send back a signed contract and that the announced site location–the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino—isn’t even booked.
The belief from Bryan’s camp—all of whom are quarantined in South Florida ahead of fight week—is that it is yet another stall tactic.
“I understand what Charr is doing,” Stacy McKinley, Bryan’s trainer told BoxingScene.com. “This is a business also. He’s thinking that if he doesn't have to fight Trevor Bryan, he’s not gonna fight Trevor Bryan.”
The WBA heavyweight title picture has remained an uncluttered mess for years.
Charr hasn’t fought since winning the WBA “World” title in a 12-round decision over Alexander Ustinov in Nov. 2017. After that came a suspension in Nov. 2018 for having tested positive for a banned substance surrounding a canceled title fight with Fres Oquendo. Charr was able to clear his name and have his suspension lifted, only on the insistence that he submits to random drug testing as contracted through Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA).
Such testing is in place for this thrice-ordered title consolidation bout, with Bryan entering as the WBA “Interim” titlist which he claimed in a 4th round knockout of BJ Flores in Aug. 2018. The bout was his last to date, with everyone waiting on a fight date to materialize.
King won a purse bid hearing held last March, submitting a $2,000,000 bid to win promotional rights for the fight. Plans called for the bout to take place last May, only for the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to squash those plans. Several more delays prompted the WBA to once again intervene, demanding that King secure a date by Jan. 29th or else threatening to put declaring a default on the purse bid agreement.
The winner will effectively become a mandatory challenger to reigning unified WBA “Super”/IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua (24-1, 22KOs). The theory on the Bryan side is that Charr might be holding out for an eventual shot at Joshua or the winner of the Brit’s anticipated undisputed championship showdown with Lineal and WBC champ Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 21KOs).
“The title is the only thing that gives him any value,” insists McKinley. “But you still have to follow the rules and regulations. Trevor Bryan is the mandatory. You can’t keep the title locked up. The WBA made their decision. If they decide to not fight each other, Trevor loses his mandatory and Charr loses his title.
“So, they have to fight and this is all that Trevor Bryan wants. He wants to fight. If Charr has a problem, I’m sorry but that’s not our problem. We’re in shape and ready to fight on January 29th.”
That claim holds true, whether or not Charr boards a plane and travels abroad.
“Trevor Bryan is fighting somebody Jan. 29th,” vows McKinley. “Manuel Charr if he wants it, but Trevor is gonna fight somebody next week. There is no doubt about it. We don’t want to hear any more excuses or see any more delays. Whatever problem Manuel Charr has, he needs to figure it out. Because it’s not our problem.”
Also on the show are a secondary cruiserweight title fight involving long inactive titlist Beibut Shumenov, and two heavyweight slots—Ronald Johnson and Raphael Zumbrano in a 10-round bout; and former heavyweight titlist Bermane Stiverne versus an opponent to be determined.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox