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Alexander Ustinov vs. Manuel Charr for vacant WBA title on Sat.

By Jim Dower: Alexander Ustinov (34-1, 25 KOs) and #4 WBA former world title challenger Manuel “Diamond Boy” Charr (30-4, 17 KOs) will be fighting for the vacant WBA heavyweight title this Saturday night on November 25 at the Koenig-Pilsener-Arena in Oberhausen, Germany.

This is a controversial move by the World Boxing Association to sanction the 40-year-old Ustinov vs. Charr fight for their vacant WBA World heavyweight title. There are arguably much better heavyweights in the division than these two guys. Even in the WBA’s top 15 rankings, you can argue that there are at least 8 of the 15 heavyweights that would probably beat Ustinov and Charr quite easily.

The WBA has their reasons for letting Ustinov and Charr fight for their ‘regular’ heavyweight title. The WBA has another heavyweight champion in Anthony Joshua. He’s the WBA Super World heavyweight champion. The WBA is supposed to be reducing the number of heavyweight titles in each of their divisions, but it looks like they’re in no rush to make that move in the heavyweight division, because they’re letting Ustinov and Charr fight for their WBA ‘regular’ title.

In the best possible world, the WBA will eventually order Joshua and the winner of the Charr vs. Ustinov fight to face each other. This would give the Charr-Ustinov winner a chance to make a nice retirement payday against Joshua one of these days. Unfortunately, Charr and Ustinov aren’t solid enough fighters for the winner of the match to hold down the WBA title long enough for the sanctioning body to eventually order a fight against Joshua.

Ustinov’s only career loss came against Kubrat Pulev five years ago in losing an 11th round knockout on September 29, 2012. Pulev did little more than jab Ustinov for 11 rounds. Pulev didn’t throw more than a handful of power shots in the fight. He worked Ustinov over with his power jab. Since that fight, Ustinov has won his last 7 contests against journeyman level opposition.

Ustinov has faced nobody talented, which is why it’s taken him so long to get ranked high enough for a title shot. Ustinov could have sped up the process of getting a title shot if he’d started facing quality opposition in 2013. That would have been risky for Ustinov though, because he’s slow and hittable.

The 6’7”, 284 pound Ustinov has a good chance of beating Charr. The Russian Ustinov can punch, and he has enough boxing skills to win this fight if he can land his shots. In Ustinov’s last fight, he destroyed Raphael Zumbano Love by a 1st round knockout on May 19 of this year. Love is a journeyman, and not a highly ranked contender.

Manuel Charr, 33, was picked out by former WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko for a title shot in 2012. The fight had to be stopped in the 4th round due to a cut that Charr suffered over his right eyebrow. Charr was very upset at the stoppage, and he marched around the ring angrily, waiting his arms, talking to the crowd and glaring at Vitali. It wasn’t a competitive fight. Charr was too short to land anything on Vitali.

Charr has stayed busy since his loss to Vitali. He’s fought 12 times in the last 5 years, losing 3 of them to Mairis Briedis, Alexander Povetkin and Johann Duhaupas. It’s surprising that with all the defeats Charr has suffered, the WBA still has him ranked at No.4 with their organization. Charr has won his last 2 fights since losing to Briedis in August 2015. Briedis moved up from cruiserweight to fight Charr, and he ended up stopping him in the 5th round. Charr looked bad in that fight. In Charr’s last 2 fights, he’s beaten Sefer Seferi and Andrei Mazanik.

The WBA has Charr ranked above Alexander Povetkin, Charles Martin, Dillian Whyte, Kubrat Pulev, Jarrell Miller and Christian Hammer. Those guys would have an excellent of beating Charr.

Charr has past wins over Michael Grant, Alex Leapai, Kevin Johnson, Denis Bakhtov, Danny Williams, and Yakup Saglam. None of those heavyweights are relevant in today’s top 15.

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