Trevor Bryan and Mahmoud Charr are back in each other’s crosshairs.
Hall of Fame promoter Don King has once again claimed promotional rights to the oft-postponed WBA “World” heavyweight title fight through a purse bid hearing. Don King Productions—represented by veteran boxing personality Tony Gonzalez—was the lone bidder during Thursday’s session in Miami, submitting an offer of $1,000,101.80 to be split evenly between Bryan and Charr.
DKP was required to submit a 25% deposit ($250,025.45) to secure conditional rights to the fight, with final contracts to be submitted no later than December 29—20 days from the time of the purse bid hearing. Plans call for the bout to take place January 29—one year to the day of their previously failed attempt to stage the fight. King listed potential locations of Warren, Ohio, Las Vegas and South Florida.
Presumably, the fight will be packaged with a WBC cruiserweight title fight between defending tiltlist Ilunga ‘Junior’ Makabu and mandatory challenger Thabiso Mchunu, which was previously announced to take place January 29 in Warren, Ohio.
The winner of Bryan-Charr will enter the race to challenge for the WBA “Super” heavyweight title currently held by Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13KOs), who also holds the IBF, WBO and IBO belts. Usyk—the former lineal and undisputed cruiserweight king—became the unified heavyweight titlist following his win over Anthony Joshua this past September. The two are currently in talks for a rematch, after which the winner will be looking at numerous mandatories including an eventual title consolidation clash with the WBA “World” titlist.
Bryan (21-0, 15KOs) claimed the vacant secondary belt this past January 29, through bizarre circumstances.
The unbeaten heavyweight from Schenectady, New York had not fought since a fourth-round knockout of BJ Flores in August 2018 to win the WBA “Interim” heavyweight belt. Bryan waited for years to receive his due shot versus then WBA “World” titlist Charr (32-4, 18KOs), with the fight originally due to take place last May for a far greater payday. King won a March 2020 purse bid hearing, submitting a massive $2,000,000 offer to stage the fight.
The event was delayed first due to the pandemic and then through the usual games played by King and the current state of his promotional company. The WBA intervened late last year, demanding the fight take place no later than January 29, 2021 to avoid a purse bid default.
King set up shop behind closed doors at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. However, Charr—a Syrian heavyweight based out of Cologne, Germany—was unable to leave his home country due to failure to secure a P1 travel visa in time to participate in the event. The matter became the subject of a messy lawsuit, though not before Charr was demoted to “Champion In Recess” which allowed him the benefit of next challenging for the vacated title when was available.
The development allowed King to replace Charr with faded former WBC titlist Bermane Stiverne (25-5-1, 21KOs), whom Bryan twice floored en route to an eleventh-round knockout atop a DKP Pay-Per-View event.
Bryan has not fought since then, while Charr managed to end a 42-month inactive stretch. The 37-year old heavyweight made his way back to the ring this past May, scoring a second-round knockout of previously unbeaten Christopher Lovejoy (20-1, 20KOs), a beefy boxing legend on the Tijuana club circuit who was unable to stand up to Charr’s power for much more than four minutes.
The players and the date suggest that history is doomed to repeat itself. However, the effort to reschedule the fight comes at a time when the WBA has since cleaned up its act. The sanctioning body has aggressively moved towards reducing its number of recognized titlists, though with the acknowledgement that the heavyweight division would be the toughest task given the number of fighters owed a title fight.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter @JakeNDaBox