New year, same status in the far too difficult effort to get Trevor Bryan and Mahmoud (Manuel) Charr in the ring.
Despite the threat of a hard deadline in place, BoxingScene.com has learned that Don King has yet to deliver final contracts for the WBA “World” heavyweight title fight between Bryan and Charr. The Hall of Fame promoter secured the rights to the rescheduled bout after submitting an offer of $1,000,101.90 during a December 9 purse bid hearing held by the WBA, which required a 25% deposit on the spot along with signed contracts by December 29.
The latter has yet to happen and Charr—who was in this exact position this time one year ago—refuses to allow history to repeat itself. The veteran heavyweight contender has personally called WBA president Gilberto Jesus Mendoza to task, threatening not only to take further legal action but to encourage others to turn their back on the Panama City-headquartered sanctioning body.
“Mendoza, they force me to walk a dirty path! I will sue [the WBA] the corrupt club,” Charr said to Mendoza in the presence of several other WBA executives in a strongly worded e-mail, a copy of which has been obtained by BoxingScene.com. “I recorded our video call where you promised to protect me! You lied, your father is ashamed that you are his son, you are not worthy to be a president for such an association!”
Among the other issues holding up the fight is Don King Productions (DKP) once again stalling on efforts to secure a P-1 entertainment visa required for Charr—a Syrian heavyweight based out of Hamburg who holds German citizenship—to travel to the U.S. for the fight.
DKP informed the sanctioning body during its purse bid that the fight would take place as part of an already announced January 29 card in Warren, Ohio. The event currently houses the WBC cruiserweight title fight between defending champion Ilunga ‘Junior’ Makabu—who King co-promotes—and mandatory challenger Thabiso Mchunu. Bryan-Charr was expected to land on the show as well, whether as main event or co-feature for a card that—for now—will likely take place as a DKP-distributed modestly priced Pay-Per-View event.
The same approach was taken with plans for Bryan-Charr last January 29—exactly one year to the suggested date for this fight, with plans at the time for the title fight to have topped a show at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Charr was forced to call and email King’s office daily, inquiring of his P-1 status which was never resolved and is the subject of an ongoing breach of contract lawsuit filed by Charr last August with the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida in Fort Lauderdale.
Bryan (21-0, 15KOs) wound up facing late replacement Bermane Stiverne for the WBA “World” title that was stripped from Charr for failure to defend, with the heavyweight downgraded to “Champion in Recess.” Bryan went on to win by 11th round knockout, cashing in his now-defunct interim title for the “World” version, which is secondary to the WBA “Super” title held by Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13KOs) who is also the IBF/WBO/IBO champ.
Efforts to reschedule the bout for last spring never materialized. Charr (32-4, 18KOs) wound up taking a stay busy fight versus Tijuana club show legend Christopher Lovejoy, though fittingly in another fight that King attempted to block as he claimed to still hold promotional rights to Lovejoy. The fight went through as scheduled, with Charr scoring a second-round knockout in his first bout since previously winning the vacant WBA “World” title in a twelve-round, unanimous decision over Alexander Ustinov in November 2017.
With the matter remaining unresolved in getting Bryan and Charr in the ring, the WBA took matters into its own hands. Mendoza and the WBA Championship Committee imposed what they believed to be the proper measures to avoid a repeat of last year’s fiasco. Those modifications included the winning purse bid promoter submitting a non-refundable 25% deposit instead of the traditional 10%, along with a tight turnaround time to produce signed contracts and the specification that the promoter of record is required to handle all travel issues.
“They do not understand that as a Syrian citizen I have already been to the USA several times with a B1 / B2 visa,” pointed out Charr in refusing to accept the degree of difficulty in DKP resolving the issue, which is the company’s responsibility as the lead promoter. “Today, I am a German citizen and I would be able to easily enter the USA with an ESTA visa.
“But without a signed fight contract from Don King, you don’t get a P1 visa and so I am not allowed to fight.”
Any hint of King trying to once again pull a bait and switch—and more so, without the WBA taking action—could see this matter become even uglier in a hurry.
“I advise him to think carefully which way you want to go … the honest way? Or the dirty way of Don King,” stated Charr. “Your word was for your dead father, you didn’t keep it. I’ll also make a press release that [the WBA] should be boycotted, and I’ll post it on my social media if you don’t see your senses.
“No athlete or employed worker comes to the US without a signed employment contract. I’m fed up with [the WBA] you are no longer a worthy club if you take my title away from me.”
The matter remained under review with the WBA as of the most recent correspondence between the sanctioning body and BoxingScene.com.
The winner of the ordered Bryan-Charr fight will become the mandatory challenger to Usyk, as part of the WBA’s continued efforts to reduce its number of recognized titlists. The campaign began last August, though with the heavyweight division left for last due to the number of existing complications—most of which continue to surround this matchup that has been far too long in the making, given its otherwise general lack of relevance.