Manuel Charr, who holds a secondary heavyweight world title, had his suspension for a failed drug test lifted by the WBA and was ordered to make a mandatory defense against Fres Oquendo within 60 days, according to a resolution the sanctioning body issued on Monday.
In November, the WBA suspended Charr for six months but did not strip him of the second-tier belt -- unified titlist Anthony Joshua is the WBA's top titleholder -- because the Charr camp protested the way his samples were handled by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association.
Charr (31-4, 17 KOs) was scheduled to make the mandatory defense against Oquendo (37-8, 24 KOs) on Sept. 29 in Cologne, Germany, but he tested positive for two banned substances, the anabolic steroids epitrenbolone and drostanolone, in random VADA tests, and the fight was canceled.
After the positive test on Charr's A sample, he had the right had to have his B sample tested and to also have a representative present when the B sample was opened.
"Although VADA and the WBA had reason to assume that Charr did not intend to have a representative attend the opening and testing of the B sample, Charr claims that his requests regarding the B sample testing were not acknowledged," the WBA wrote in its resolution, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN. "Regardless of the disputes over communications and notice, Charr did not have a representative attend the B sample testing. Charr provided a third sample to VADA on Sept. 29, 2018, and the sample tested negative, according to a VADA communication of Nov. 6 2018."
Because of the situation over the B sample test, the WBA did not strip Charr, though it suspended him while it investigated what happened.
"Because of the lapse of time since the taking of the A and B samples and the communication issues alleged by Charr, the suspension is recalled," the WBA wrote. However, the lifting of the suspension was subject to certain conditions.
One of them is Charr must face Oquendo within 60 days. Also, the winner of that fight must next face the winner of a bout the WBA ordered between its interim titlist, Trevor Bryan, and Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller within no more than 120 days after the conclusion of Charr-Oquendo.
"As the exclusive co-promoters of Fres Oquendo, Square Ring and Hitz Boxing intend to comply with the WBA resolution, and as we already have an agreement in place with the Charr camp and the money is already in escrow in the United States, the only thing we need to do now is set the date and the site of the fight," Square Ring promoter John Wirt told ESPN on Monday night.
Charr is also subject to continued random testing by VADA, as are Oquendo, Bryan and Miller. If Charr has another positive test, he will automatically be suspended again and will be stripped of the belt, the WBA said.
Greg Cohen, the co-promoter of Miller (23-0-1, 20 KOs), said he is in talks Don King, who promotes Bryan (20-0, 14 KOs), 29, of Schenectady, New York, to make the bout. If they do not make a deal, the bout would go to a purse bid.
The Bryan-Miller bout, however, might not take place given that Miller, 30, of Brooklyn, New York, has been prominently mentioned as a possible challenger for Joshua in his next bout in the spring or early summer.
Charr, 34, a Syria native who fights out of Germany, won the vacant second-tier title by unanimous decision against Alexander Ustinov in Oberhausen, Germany in November 2017 but has not fought since because of the September fight with Oquendo being canceled.
Oquendo, 45, of Chicago, has not been a relevant contender for many years and has not boxed since losing a majority decision to Ruslan Chagaev for the same vacant title in July 2014. Injuries and other issues prevented him from fighting for the title again since, but the WBA believes it is obligated to give him a title opportunity based on the outcome of a federal lawsuit from several years ago.