I have no idea if the boxing gyms in Homs are still open or if the Syrian city's best fighter, Manuel Charr, is planning a victory parade if he performs a miracle when he fights Vitali Klitschko in September.
Charr, who is based in Cologne, has been given his boxing lottery ticket and a guarantee of a massive payday by the ever-philanthropic older Klitschko brother. It is a fight that could only make sense in Kiev, the city that Vitali, a passionate pro-democracy activist, has selected for the launch of his post-boxing career as a politician.
"I have never even heard of this guy," said David Haye, who had still been negotiating for a fight with Vitali long after the ink had dried on his contract to fight Dereck Chisora on 14 July at Upton Park.
"I guess that Vitali just wants one more easy fight, a quick knockout before he moves full-time into politics," continued Haye, who has been a permanent annoyance on the Klitschko brothers' radar since 2008.
Charr, meanwhile, has countered that somebody from inside Haye's camp had offered him work as a sparring partner only a few weeks ago; if he had accepted the job it would have boosted his wafer-thin credentials as the latest WBC heavyweight challenger.
"This guy Charr is a complete joke," said Chisora, who recently cancelled his plans to train in Poland and commute to watch England matches in Ukraine during Euro 2012. "Trust me that it has nothing to do with me feeling threatened," he said. "I like Poland but I have a good camp here."
Charr is unbeaten in 21 fights, with 11 quick wins, but the truth is that he has failed to stop the men that he should be stopping, which is a standard if barbaric way of measuring a fighter's ability. Charr beat a measuring-stick opponent called Taras Bydenko on points over 12 rounds, but men with a bit more ambition and power stop Bydenko long before the final bell. Haye is right: Charr is the boxing equivalent of a carriage clock.
The odds against the fighter from Homs pulling off a shock are not even available, which makes sense. A closer look at Vitali's last 12 WBC heavyweight title fights, starting in 2004 when he beat Corrie Sanders to win the belt, makes depressing reading and brutally exposes Charr's limited ambitions. Vitali has met some quality contenders and has never been under threat, using his safety-first jab to alienate a lot of fans on the way to his retirement party against Charr.
In those 12 fights Vitali has only once lost two rounds on the scorecards of the three officials and that was last time out, against Chisora in February in Munich. At ringside on that night I scored four rounds for Chisora and felt that the Briton made Vitali, who was 40, look and fight like an old man at times. Sadly, Chisora's impressive display in the ring has been overlooked because of the skirmish at the post-fight press conference.
It is amazing to think that Chisora gave Vitali his hardest fight since 2003 and that bloody night in Los Angeles when Lennox Lewis slugged his way to victory in arguably heavyweight boxing's last great fight. The Haye v Chisora fight is not for a world title and has certainly upset a few people in the dirty old business, but it is most definitely a real heavyweight fight.
British fans of the sport can be grateful they have that and not Charr v Klitschko on their horizon.Reuse content