An interim heavyweight title is on the line tonight as the hometown favorite B.J. Flores faces unbeaten and largely-unknown Trevor Bryan in Phoenix.
Bryan and Flores are ranked fourth and fifth respectively in the WBA rankings and will now fight for a sanctioned belt, despite a scheduled bout on September 29th in Germany between regular titleholder Manuel Charr and 45-year old “contender” Fres Oquendo.
Don King Promotions announced Thursday that the match was for an interim title, and Charr’s attorney responded Friday that their regular title fight was still on despite reports of legal issues, which it was then announced are apparently ironed out.
Flores is fighting his third consecutive bout at Celebrity Theater since his knockout loss to Tony Bellew two years ago. The former cruiserweight titlist is less than a year away from 40 and the stakes are high.
A win would catapult him into the contender conversation at heavyweight, while a loss could effectively end his career.
Bryan has a padded record with his only notable win over gatekeeper Derric Rossy in 2015. His past two opponents have four combined wins. Though untested on paper, the New York native has sparred with more than a few elite heavyweights, including Luis Ortiz, Alexander Povetkin, and Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller.
His big fight opportunities have been limited, but he’ll enter under the Don King banner this weekend with a shot a relevancy. If King is right, the WBA will have three heavyweight titlists after this fight; the new interim champion, the regular champion Charr, and Super champion Anthony Joshua. The Englishman Joshua will face the WBA’s top contender in Povetkin next month.
Despite this week’s shenanigans, the WBA has previously pledged to cut down on multiple belts per weight class.
The winner of Saturday’s fight should fight Charr next, but there are plenty of game contenders chomping at the bit, including the third-ranked Miller or sixth-ranked Dillian Whyte.
Regardless of the politics, two fighters will have a shot at glory Saturday night in the desert.