Boxing News At Five | Apr 01 2019

Boxing News at Five: Charr says Whyte is “irrelevant”, Lebedev is ready for Okolie fight

Manuel Charr, the WBA regular heavyweight champion, has no interest in fighting Dillian Whyte, but Denis Lebedev and Lawrence Okolie are happy to meet at cruiserweight
Dillian Whyte
Dillian Whyte  |  Action Images/Peter Cziborra

DILLIAN WHYTE is an irrelevant contender in the heavyweight division and shouldn’t be described as a sportsman or a challenge.

That’s the view of WBA regular heavyweight champion Manuel Charr, who says a fight with Whyte is of no interest to him either in the short or long term.

Whyte, of course, is on the hunt for an opponent having snubbed a deal to fight Anthony Joshua and having then been snubbed by the WBC and leapfrogged by Dominic Breazeale in the race for a shot against champion Deontay Wilder.

He has since been linked to fights with the likes of Luis Ortiz, Alexander Povetkin, and yes, Manuel Charr, but the final name on that shortlist, in conversation with Jack Figg of SunSport, was quick to rule himself out.

“I am not interested in a fight against Dillian Whyte,” Charr said. “He is not a sportsman and not a challenge for me. He is an irrelevant man.

“He has made good fights and won, but he is not ready to fight against me. This athlete should not be given a platform for a world championship.

“I really want to fight in England. My favourite opponents are the super sportsmen: Anthony Joshua or Tyson Fury. These two athletes would be a big challenge for me personally.

“Talent against experience. I have the ring experience. I just want to fight the best and AJ (Joshua) and Fury are the best fighters from UK.”

As well as being ‘super sportsmen’, one imagines Joshua and Fury’s ability to make Charr a very rich man also has something to do with his desire to share a ring with them.

Charr, after all, is now making up for lost time. He landed the meaningless WBA regular title back in November 2017, following a win against Alexander Ustinov in Germany, but has yet to make a defence due to a six-month suspension served for failing a performance-enhancing drug test last September.

He says the ups and downs, which include a 2015 ‘assassination’ attempt, all amount to a struggle not too dissimilar to that of one of the men he is currently chasing.

“My story is like the story of Tyson Fury: Never give up and fight for the good again and again. You have to be a role model,” he said.

“I had to overcome many obstacles during my boxing career. In 2015, I survived an assassination after a man shot me in the stomach.

“Although I had severe internal injuries, I made my comeback victorious nine months later.

“Only a year after the assassination, I fought for the WBA international title against Sefer Seferi, the former opponent of Tyson Fury, who was unbeaten at the time. I won the title.

“Because of years of pain in the hips, two artificial hips were implanted in April 2017. The surgeon implanted both artificial hips during a single session.

“Anyone who survives such evil destinies can and wants to carry the world in his hands.”

And there was me thinking he just wanted to cash out with his WBA regular title.

Dillian Whyte


Russia’s Denis Lebedev is happy to oblige Lawrence Okolie and box the unbeaten Brit for the WBA cruiserweight title recently vacated by heavyweight-bound Oleksandr Usyk.

Usyk had been ordered to defend his WBA ‘super’ title against ‘regular’ holder Lebedev but has instead vacated. This has left an opening for Okolie, one he seems eager to exploit.

“We have heard Okolie’s team are interested in fighting Lebedev,” Vadim Kornilov of World of Boxing told Sky Sports.

“I discussed this with Denis and the team, and they said they are ready – make the fight happen!”

Lebedev, 13 years Okolie’s senior, has held IBF and WBA titles at cruiserweight and beaten the likes of Enzo Maccarinelli, Roy Jones, James Toney and Victor Emilio Ramirez, against whom he unified WBA and IBF belts in 2016. Given his history in the sport, his promoters hope his next fight, potentially his last, will be held in Russia.

“Denis is a big champion and has a lot of fans in Russia. He has fought many big fights and main events in Russia,” Kornilov said.

“With this possibly being Denis’ last fight, it would be great to put this fight together in Russia as a possible farewell fight for Denis.”

It’s difficult to envisage Okolie making the trip to Russia to fight a noted tough man like Lebedev. What’s more, Hearn, Okolie’s promoter, would like to see the Londoner fight in the UK this summer.

“I’ve got the green light from Lawrence who said he would be ready to fight Lebedev next,” Hearn told Sky Sports.

“I’ve spoken to World of Boxing. We’ve made them an offer. Obviously, he’s got to accept that offer but from our side we are ready to go for that fight.

“July is the date I’ve got in mind and if Lebedev accepts that fight it could be next.

“I think it’s much too early for Okolie to step up (to heavyweight). But I do think he can win that fight and I think when you get an opportunity to fight for a world title in one that you may be a slight favourite, I think you should take it.”

Lawrence Okolie vs Isaac Chamberlain