This Saturday night in Germany will see a heavyweight showdown for the only world title that’s vacant in boxing’s most lucrative division.
Following Lucas Browne’s unseating when he tested positive for a banned substance, the World Boxing Association initially ordered a mini-tournament with the WBA regular title as the prize in a bid to eliminate the issue of multiple titles in the weight class.
Former world champion Shannon Briggs and Puerto Rican Fres Oquendo where scheduled to face each other in June for that vacant WBA regular title – Anthony Joshua is the WBA super titlist – but then Briggs continued the distasteful theme unfairly and unfortunately linked with this belt by failing a pre-fight drug test.
The winner would have been ordered a mandatory defense of that title against Ustinov or face the possibility of being stripped.
So, the no.2 ranked Alexander Ustinov (34-1) is pitted against the no.4 placed Manuel Charr (30-4) in a battle of veterans in Oberhausen.
Ustinov, 40, won a technical knockout in the first round in his previous fight on May 19 in Bolton against Brazilian Rafael Zumbano Love. You may remember Anthony Joshua stopping the same man in the second-round of their scheduled eight-round bout back in May 2015.
The Russian heavyweight has just one loss on his fine record to Kubrat Pulev in 2012, who you may also recall was AJ’s last scheduled opponent before he withdrew citing a shoulder injury, and his last four wins have all come by knockout.
Charr, 33, won his last two fights in a row by knockout, including a unanimous decision win in September over undefeated Sefer Sefari for the vacant WBA International heavyweight title.
Alexander the Great has 25 KO’s from 34 victories compared to Diamond Boy’s 17 stoppages from 30 wins.
The 6ft 7” giant has the size advantage and upper hand in power, which is enough, in my view, to give him the nod in this fight.
Charr is durable and solid but I would expect the fight to end early, maybe in the later rounds from the eighth onwards.
I don’t know if Ustinov will land cleanly on Charr so I think he will swarm him when he senses he’s hurt to force the official to intervene.