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The WBA’s Heavyweight Deal Is A Clusterfuck; Plus, An Economics Lesson From Lovejoy

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The WBA’s Heavyweight Deal Is A Clusterfuck; Plus, An Economics Lesson From Lovejoy

None of them drape themselves in figurative flags of glory 24-7, or even 24-6, but yes, there are gradations of badness in the realm of boxings' sanctioning bodies.

The WBA often seems to take the cake for chicanery having to do with ratings, and titles, and such. WBA’s ranking section listed four names of boxers laying a claim to a WBA heavyweight title (or status).

Anthony Joshua is their “super” champion, Trevor Bryan the WBA “world champion,” Robert Helenius is the WBA “gold”champion, and Mahmoud Charr is termed “champion in recess.”

There is nobody holding the “interim WBA world heavyweight championship,” and yes, you’d be within your rights to ask why there’d be a need for an “interim” titlist, being that Bryan, the so called world champ, just fought and secured that belt on Jan. 30. 

Fear not, though, if you are in the camp who thinks that interim belt situation should get sorted, because on Saturday June 5, Bogdan Dinu is slated to fight Daniel Dubois and it seems as though that interim WBA strap will be on the line. 

Dinu is training in his hometown of Buzau, Romania, and he’s been sparring a big-name talent, according to a press release sent out by Greg Cohen Promotions. In the release, Cohen is named as promoter of Dinu, who has a 20-2 mark, with 16 KOs to his credit. 

No discredit intended to the warriors, who are but pawns within a strange scene, but the reasoning to have this faceoff labeled a “title fight” would be strained at best, ludicrous at worst. The WBA has the 34 year old Dinu ranked No. 2, behind No. 1 Oleksandr Usyk, while Dubois, age 34, is ranked No. 5.

Dinu, the release shares, is sparring Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, who scored a KO4 win over Dinu on Nov. 17, 2018. Dinu lost to Miller, and also got stopped in his next outing, to Kubrat Pulev in March 2019. He rebounded with stoppage wins over resume padders Osborn Machimana, and Frank Bluemle in October 2020, his last time gloving up. 

Dubois, age 23, was last seen battling Joe Joyce in November 2020; he took his first L when his eye closed up and he couldn’t continue in round ten. 

 “I see a young heavyweight who likes to fight, but has only faced easier opponents,” Dinu said about Dubois. “His only tough fight was against Joe Joyce and we saw what happened. You’ll see by the result of our fight that his big reputation is exaggerated. He’s promising to knock me out? He’s just saying words because he hasn’t met me yet. He will have a big surprise when he looks in my eyes, just as tall as he is and not afraid of him at all. I am going to be very well-prepared and I have a lot of surprises for this kid.”

Dinu last fought in October 2020 with a second-round stoppage of German veteran Frank Bluemle in October 2020. 

 “Bogdan Dinu has only lost to two of the top contenders in the division in Miller and Kubrat Pulev and he really should have won the Pulev fight,” said promoter Cohen, who is back to boxing after a state sponsored hiatus. “Bogdan is a very smart, experienced, tough guy with a great amateur pedigree and I don’t think Daniel Dubois is ready for someone with his world-class skills and experience. Dinu is working every day in camp with Jarrell, who is pushing him to his limits and taking him to new levels as a fighter. After June 5, Bogdan Dinu will be the interim WBA heavyweight champion in line to face one of the top dogs.”

It comes as no surprise that the WBA’s heavyweight landscape has clown-show elements to it. You recall the goofiness during fight week when Don King put on a PPV topped by a Trevor Bryan-Bermane Stiverne scrap on January 29.

That main event was allegedly supposed to have been Trevor Bryan v Mahmoud Charr, or maybe Beibut Shumenov vs. Raphael Murphy. Only Charr never arrived in Florida, from his nation of residence, Germany. There was beefing between King and Team Charr, and scurrilous barbs flew back and forth between the parties. The Charr side said they were ready to rumble, but that King wasn't serious about inviting Charr to any party involving Bryan, an upstate New York boxer who eventually ended up working the night of Jan. 29, when he defeated Stiverne, for a ‘BA belt.

That fight was one of just three fights in what figures to be the last ever promotion for the promoter who turns 90 on August 20.

Charr, formerly “Manuel” but now going by “Mahmoud,” you may know, did fight for the first time since 2017, on Saturday, against Californian Christopher Lovejoy, who entered 19-0. 

The 32-4 man from Lebanon received mild competition from Lovejoy, who received threatening word from King that he was under contract to the Don, and should not go through with the plan to face Charr.

Lovejoy told me he severed ties with King, that his lawyers had overseen the parting of ways with the Hall of Fame promoter.

“The contract (with King) expired May 4,” the fighter explained. He said that he declared bankruptcy before that, and implied that move gave him extra cover in the disengagement from King.

“I didn’t want to go to court for Don trying to extend (our deal) for any type of COVID excuse,” said Lovejoy, age 37, who had fought every pro bout in Tijuana, Mexico before doing battle in Germany against Charr.

I asked him point blank if he were a promotional free agent for the Charr match, and he said that he was not affiliated with any promoter. King said otherwise in a release put out by his office the day before the scheduled Charr-Lovejoy tussle. 

Heavyweight boxer Christopher Lovejoy, who has an exclusive promotional agreement with Hall of Fame boxing promoter Don King, nor the promoters of Saturday’s boxing card in Germany, are complying with the Cease & Desist letter they received several weeks ago….Lovejoy filed for bankruptcy in California before departing for Germany to try to stop King from taking action on his exclusive promotional agreement in trying to stop Saturday night’s fight.  And promoter Errol Ceylan is illegally promoting a fight involving a DKP exclusively promoted fighter and knowingly and willingly, tortiously interfering with King’s agreement with Lovejoy. ‘Lovejoy and the German promoter are defying the law,’ said King.  ‘We have served them and justice will prevail.  We will see who will be “quacking” when we get to court and the legal process decides that everything is there in black and white. Lovejoy is out there popping off and feels that this fight is for the WBA championship. The WBA hasn’t sanctioned this illegal bout and they certainly won’t do so.  Trevor Bryan is the WBA champion…What fighter shows up in Germany without a trainer or cut man and is totally out of shape, weighing 306 pounds.  Lovejoy lacks plain common sense…See you in court along with your German promoter! We’ll see who will be laughing last on Instagram.”

For the record, Lovejoy said he was feeling good heading into that fight, but a couple days after we messaged, he weighed 306 pounds for the Friday weigh in, far and away from the 236 he weighed when fighting Misael Sanchez on Jan. 25, 2020, in Tijauana.

Lovejoy didn’t answer queries from me after telling me he was fooling groovy. He defended himself vigorously on social media after getting kayoed by Charr in Cologne. 

Then, he dropped a video on to YouTube, a primer on the shitty economics which face many fighters who have to chop up pieces of their purse until there is not all that much left for them to take home.

The jumbo sized hitter laid out a scenario in which the purse is $80,000. A promoter might get an extra $20,000 which you don't know about. Then the promoter gets a cut from the official purse, maybe $20,000, and the manager also gets 1/3, maybe $25,000, and the trainer should get $10,000. You still have to pay a cut man, and there was sparring and such to pay for, as well. That leaves you $20,000…and THEN you still have to chop it up and pay Uncle Sam. But click that video, and see how Lovejoy finishes up the YouTube, you maybe won't see it coming.

All this is to say this…the WBA drapes itself in the opposite of glory with all these shenanigans. Even within the fast and loose atmosphere of the loosely structured and overseen sport these shenanigans stand out, for their audacious perniciousness.

Editor/publisher Michael Woods got addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the thought to be impregnable Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist Woods has covered the sport since then, for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN New York, RING, and he was editor of TheSweetScience.com from 2007-2015. Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and for Facebook Fightnight Live since 2017. He now does work for PROBOX TV, the first truly global boxing network.

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