OBERHAUSEN, Germany — Seven months after a double hip replacement, Manuel Charr defeated Alexander Ustinov of Russia by unanimous decision for the vacant WBA heavyweight title on Saturday.
The judges awarded it 114-111, 116-111 and 115-112 in favor of Charr, who became the first German heavyweight champion since Max Schmeling in the early 1930s.
The Lebanese-born Charr, who was also shot in the stomach during an altercation at a kebab shop in 2015, said he would have been champion sooner had he undergone the hip operation before last April.
Charr arrived in Germany in 1989 as a refugee. He was stabbed in the back with a knife when he was 16.
“I have experienced much more than fits in a life,” Charr said before the bout. “I’m like a cat with seven lives. I’ve used five so I have to change something.”
Charr rocked Ustinov in the seventh round when he had the taller fighter against the ropes and tried to finish off the bout. The Russian weathered the punches but seemed disorientated, allowing Charr through again and again with his left.
Charr finished the eighth by catching Ustinov with a vicious left blow that left the Russian on his knees with blood streaming below his left eye. The bell provided respite.
Ustinov displayed remarkable resilience as he lumbered through the next rounds but Charr had already done enough.
Charr improved to 31-4 with 17 KOs, while Ustinov dropped to 34-2 (25 KOs).