Martin Bakole vs Cassius Chaney ordered by the WBA
The Championships Committee sent the formal communication to both fighters’ teams, giving them 30 days to sign the fight contract for the opportunity to become the next mandatory challenger for the WBA World heavyweight title.
Pursuant to championship rule C. 30, an elimination fight will be fought between the highest available contenders certified by the championship committee and will have no more than thirty (30) days to negotiate the fight.
In the event that the parties do not reach an agreement, or either party refuses to sign the contract, the Championship Committee may open the fight to purse bid under its rules of the body and with a 50% purse split.
Both contnders have each recorded one loss each on their records and have an almost identical number of wins and knockouts.
Baltimore's Chaney is 36 and first turned pro in 2015, when he ended the year with a points win over Britain's Larry Olubamiwo in Bristol. He reached 21-0 by 2021, until he met his first fellow unbeaten fighter, in the Dominican's Goerge Arias (16-0 at the time). It was Chaney's second 10-round contest, but was denied via a split decision, with two judges scoring the bout to Arias.
Chaney only fought once in 2022, bouncing back from defeat with a first-round knockout, then again just once in 2023, last November, with a career-best win over former world champion Trevor Bryan in the seventh round to secure his eliminator shot.
Adopted Scot, Bakole, trained by Billy Nelson in Airdrie, has long been calling for his shot at the world titles and the big names above him, but has often been considered as a high risk-low reward opponent.
But now the 30-year-old is in a position to force his world title shot by becoming the mandatory challenger. However, there's a queue building up, which means the Congolese combatant may still be made to wait for a lot longer yet.
WBA Regular champion Daniel Dubois was the last person to get his chance at unified champion Oleksandr Usyk. Next in line out of the five world governing bodies is the IBF title, which sees Filip Hrgovic in the mandatory spot, likely to fight for the belt when it becomes vacant after the undisputed showdown between Fury and Usyk is decided on February 17. The IBF do not recognise rematches and will strip the winner of Fury-Usyk to immediately allow Hrgovic to challenge for the vacant belt, most likely against their soon-to-be No.2 ranked Anthony Joshua, should he get through his fight with Francis Ngannou on March 8th.
If Fury and Usyk rematch each other, that will see all the world titles, barring the IBF, most likely held up for the entirety of this year. The WBO would then come before the WBA, so Zhilei Zhang, the WBO Interim champion, will be awarded his shot before Bakole will be, should they all successfully stay winning during 2024. Unless a different route becomes available, Bakole's WBA mandatory shot may not become available until 2025.
However, in the meantime, the DROC fighter can look to elevate his position with the IBF to try to secure a shot at whoever the champion may be later this year – either Hrgovic or AJ.
But his most likely route to becoming a world champion is to fight long-forgotten Mahmoud Charr for the WBA Regular world title that was given back to him as the 'Champion in Recess' in 2023, after Dubois lost his right to retain the title when he lost in the ninth round to Usyk last August.
Despite not defending the Regular title a single time, since winning the belt in 2017, he has bizarrely been handed the belt back again.
Charr faced Alexander Ustinov for the vacant WBA Regular title in Germany on November 25, 2017, and won by unanimous decision, which meant he became the first German heavyweight world champion in 85 years. A few days before he was scheduled to defend his belt against Fres Oquendo in September 2018, he tested positive for drostanolone and trenbolone, and as a result the fight was called off.
In January 2021, Charr was stripped of his WBA Regular title due to inactivity. Charr returned to the ring in May 2021 and recorded his 32nd career victory after three years away, with a second-round knockout of undefeated Christopher Lovejoy. Following extensive litigation with the WBA, Charr's title was restored on August 31, 2023, five days after Dubois lost it, as part of a court settlement, and he was ordered to defend against Jarrell Miller by October 2023, with the winner to face the next highest contender. But the set October deadline came and went, the fight with Miller failing to materialise due to financial issues. As a result, the WBA granted Charr a 60-day extension to find a new opponent.
The WBA Regular heavyweight title has forever been shrouded in misfortune and disrepute. However, for Bakole, to fight Mahmoud Charr and win, and be presented with a belt that has the words 'World Champion' inscribed on ot, will be a lifelong dream fulfilled.