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Mahmoud Charr accuses WBA of conspiring with Don King

Charr’s legal team claims King has been bribing Gilberto Mendoza for over half a decade in exchange for favorable rankings

Mahmoud Charr v Christopher Lovejoy - WBA Heavyweight Fight Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images

Last year, Mahmoud Charr filed suit against Don King Promotions for what Charr alleged was an intentional scheme to prevent him from receiving the visa he needed to defend his WBA “world” heavyweight title against the King-promoted Trevor Bryan. Now, Charr has amended the lawsuit to include Gilberto Mendoza and the WBA, alleging that they joined King in a “pay-to-play scheme” in exchange for favorable rankings.

Per Charr’s motion, King has been bribing Mendoza since 2015 both directly and via Sports Consulting Services, which is affiliated with Mendoza’s son. This, allegedly, led to Bryan being bumped higher and higher in their rankings and the WBA twice allowing King to pull the rug out from under Charr by winning purse bids, then refusing to send the documentation Charr needed.

Keep in mind, this is just a motion so far, and while Charr’s legal team has assuredly submitted evidence, we the public are not privy to it. That said, everything about Bryan’s situation stinks to high heaven.

If we look at the WBA rankings from January 2017, Bryan was ranked 9th. He beats 2-20 Sandy Antonio Soto in April, bounces between 9th and 10th in the rankings for a few months, then magically jumps past Dillian Whyte and others into 6th in November. He moves to 5th in December around the time he beats 2-24 Francois Russell. He’s 4th by the time the WBA decides to have him fight BJ Flores for their interim title the following October.

Flores himself went from unranked to 11th with a win over 26-18-1 Jeremy Bates. He slowly creeps into the single digits, beating 13-6-2 Nick Guivas along the way. The moves in ranking do not at all correspond with the Guivas fight.

Then there’s the Charr debacle. The first purse bid was in May 2019, and for nearly three years the WBA lets King welch on his obligations over and over before finally stripping Charr. When one of the dates falls through, the WBA deems Bermane Stiverne, a King fighter who hadn’t scored a win in five years, someone who meets “the requirements to fight for the championship.”

When the other falls through, Jonathan Guidry gets the call. In November 2021, Guidry’s unranked. Without a single fight in the interim, he’s ranked 13th ahead of Joseph Parker and Tony Yoka the next month.

Whatever the specific merits of Charr’s allegations, it’s indisputable that Gilberto Mendoza has been rigging both his rankings and the WBA’s regulations for King’s sake. Mendoza has a long and storied history of blatant favoritism, from letting two separate fighters fight for the “super” 130-pound title ahead of “world” champ Andrew Cancio to allowing Leo Santa Cruz to hold his featherweight belt without a single defense since 2019.

There’s an element of raw incompetence, such as the time the WBA put a dead man in their rankings, but it’s impossible to argue that there isn’t malice at play.