CHARR VS BRYAN? TITLE FIGHT? WHAT IS THE WBA THINKING?
Look, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m an old-timer. I liked it when boxing only had 8 divisions. I didn’t mind the addition of the Cruiserweight division as I didn’t really think of a boxer weighing in at 176 as a “heavyweight,” not by any means.
I liked it when there was only one world champion per division. After all, we only have one world, right? Things sure have changed though. Now we seem to have a division for every pound, a plethora of so-called “governing bodies” and more “world champions” than we have planets! Something just has to give.
I’ve tried to be understanding, I really have. But it seems weird to live in a world where the most respected rankings come from a magazine (The Ring). Magazines are supposed to report on, and cover their relevant genres; not define them. Still, we’ve muddled along and now it is what it is. Some of the governing bodies are trying to clean up the mess and some are more respected than others. The “Big 4” are the WBA, WBC, WBO, and IBF.
We also have the IBO, IBA, WBU, and a host of lesser lights. Now though, it seems to me that with the sanctioning of the proposed January bout between Mahmoud Charr and Trevor Bryan as a “title fight” by the WBA, that body seems intent on relegating itself to the “irrelevant” category.
That anyone would consider lending the moniker “title fight” to this fiasco is troubling enough; that it would be supported by various pillars of the boxing community is a travesty. Let me say that again; it’s a travesty! Even the wording of the description of the fight as released by the WBA, makes me cringe; it’s a heavyweight “title fight” between current WBA champion, Mahmoud Charr and interim champion/mandatory challenger, Trevor Bryan. Let’s skip the part for now that I barely know who Trevor Bryan is – and I live, breathe, and bleed boxing – and take a look at his designation. He is both the “interim champion” and the “mandatory challenger?” At the same time? What?
As near as I can figure it, Charr, the WBA “Regular Heavyweight Champion” (try saying that 3 times fast) and who underwent double hip replacement surgery in 2017, hasn’t fought since that year. He’s had health problems and has tested positive for P.E.D.’s as recently as 2018. The WBA, in its infinite wisdom, decided to install an interim champion while Charr sorted himself out. They didn’t strip him of the title though. Enter, stage right; Trevor Bryan.
Bryan defeated the obscure BJ Flores, in August of 2018, to win this interim “championship.” So now, he became next in line for Charr’s title, making him the Number 1 contender and the “champion” at the same time. Could this get any more ridiculous? Oh wait, it does. The WBA has a third heavyweight “world champion,” Robert Helenius, of Finland. He’s the WBA “Gold” Heavyweight Champion of the World. Huh? Okay, let’s review this; the WBA has 4 heavyweight champions. There’s the “Super Champion” (and the only one who actually counts), Anthony Joshua, the “World Champion,” Mahmoud Charr, the “Gold” Champion, Helenius and the “Interim” Champion, Bryan. Confused yet? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I’m leaning towards “cry.”
The WBA has sent this debacle to Don King Promotions (gets better and better, doesn’t it?) for the purse and venue arrangements, etc. The winner of the fight will then be recognized as the “true WBA Regular Heavyweight Champion of the World.” Marciano, Ali, and Louis just rolled over in unison in their graves. What an insult to their noble sport and to their legacies as true heavyweight champions. Now, part of me wants to scream at the Sports Ministries and Departments of various countries to get involved and put an end to this nonsense. But another part of me almost wants to encourage the WBA to continue in this vein and do something even more nonsensical – if they can think of it.
I say this because I cannot help but believe that even if you shoot yourself in the foot, you’ll eventually bleed to death if you do it enough times. We need fewer governing bodies, so I’m not going to try to stop any one of them seemingly bent on self-destruction.
We aren’t talking about the WBC putting Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s picture on its championship belt here – that’s just bad taste or a real honour depending on your point of view; we’re talking about an all-out attack on the integrity of our game. We’re talking about making the sport the laughing stock of all other sports and relegating it to slightly behind mini-golf on the world stage. We’re talking about the “final insult” to boxing fans all over the world. This has to stop!