DON CHARLES’ faith in what he refers to as “the universe” is perhaps particularly relevant in the context of him recruiting the experienced James Ali Bashir to work alongside him during Daniel Dubois’ preparations for Saturday’s fight with Oleksandr Usyk.
It remains a source of frustration for Charles that Wladimir Klitschko, citing a torn abdominal muscle, withdrew from a fight with Derek Chisora four days before their date in Mannheim, Germany, and that that fight was never rescheduled. Charles’ faith in Chisora’s condition, Klitschko’s perceived vulnerabilities, and Chisora’s ability to test the Ukrainian via his willingness to take punishment to fight at close range means he remains confident that Chisora, then 26 and undefeated, would have won.
Before Klitschko’s withdrawal that week in December 2010 Charles had met and bonded with Bashir, then assisting Emanuel Steward. Few admired the late Steward more than Charles, and almost 13 years later, having stayed in touch with Bashir, 72, he extended an invitation to the American – Steward’s assistant for 17 years with, among others, Klitschko and Lennox Lewis – to strengthen their preparations and to provide his insight into Oleksandr Usyk, who he trained for three years.
Bashir was present while they trained at altitude in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Spain, has been living with Charles in London, and will join him in Dubois’ corner on Saturday night in Wroclaw, when among the three titles Dubois will challenge for are the two Klitschko had been scheduled to defend against Chisora that night in 2010. In the same way that the spiritual Charles believes that there was a reason that Klitschko-Chisora never took place, he was unexpectedly presented with so similar an opportunity with Dubois after Dubois so surprisingly separated from Shane McGuigan, a trainer sufficiently close to Charles that he once phoned him to enquire about the possibility of making a fight between Chisora and Dubois.
“Yes, I would think so,” Bashir responded when Boxing News asked if he believed he knew Usyk better than anyone outside of the heavyweight’s existing team. “I know him better than anybody.
“I got real intimate with him, you know? We were very, very close. When we parted [in February 2017] I think that was a bad move. I never did understand why we parted. I could see if I had done something wrong – if I had betrayed him in some kind of way – but none of that happened.
“We had just won the [cruiserweight] championship together. We did one title defence, and he sent me a text – he didn’t even call me up – he sent me a text to say, ‘Your services are no longer needed’. I thought we had a better relationship than that. I was offended to some degree but, in boxing circles, I don’t take anything personally. I’ve been in a lot of situations similar to that over the years. It’s just a person who chose to go a different way, so I don’t take it personally.
“I got to know him so well, one time he said I was like a father to him. So, you figure that. How do you tell your father through a text that your services are no longer needed? So, there’s a contradiction there. ‘You’re the closest thing I have to a father.’ And then you send your text saying…
“Who am I talking to here? One minute I’m like a father; the next my services are no longer needed. What’s the meaning of that? I don’t understand.
“My relationship with Don Charles. Knowing that I trained Oleksandr Usyk before, Don Charles chose to extract whatever information that I might be able to transfer to this camp, so he brought me in.
“Oleksandr Usyk, Wladimir Klitschko and Lennox Lewis – they’re all Olympic gold medallists. Daniel’s right there with them in spirit – look what this young man’s achieved in, what, 20 fights? At 25 years old, that’s crazy.
“One of two things is going to happen. He’s [Usyk] going to get pissed off, or he’s not going to show any emotion and he’s going to go through with his job. He’s a very mentally strong guy. He’s going to be pissed off [in private], of course, but he’s going to be pissed off with himself. Life goes on. My job goes on. My experience goes on.”