Ryan ‘Run Em Over’ Charles was building up a head of steam on the domestic heavyweight scene before a shocking upset and a global pandemic put his plans on ice. Now, with an unusual solution mapped out, Charles is confident he can fight his way to domestic title contention.
Following an upset loss in December of last year against Lithuanian novice Viktoras Razma, the 33-year-old Edmonton fighter was forced to re-examine his position and chart a new course.
An appearance in the Olympics is Charles’s unusual solution. The fighter’s dual nationality has led to him representing St. Lucia as an amateur on a number of occasions and now – thanks to rule changes – pros can also compete in Olympic boxing.
Charles (7-1, 2 KOs) told Boxing Social: “I represent St. Lucia and I was due to go to the Olympic qualifiers in Argentina before the Coronavirus outbreak just stopped everything.
“Now, they’ve said they could [take place] in February or March maybe. I’m excited, it’s a big opportunity and it’s something I’ve tried to do before. I was in the 2012 Olympic qualifiers for St. Lucia but I got a hard draw, I boxed against Michael Hunter in the first round and I lost to him on points.”
Any fan of heavyweight boxing will, no doubt, empathise with that tough draw. Hunter has since gone on to excel in the pro ranks, dropping a unanimous decision in a WBO cruiserweight shot against Oleksandr Usyk before dishing out defeats to the likes of Martin Bakole and Alexander Ustinov at heavyweight.
While the Londoner enjoyed modest success in the upper echelons of the amateur game, he did compete with some very high level opponents. That includes a televised loss in the 2014 Commonwealth Games, which Charles still argues he should have won, after forcing the referee to administer two counts.
The second element of Charles’s career-refreshing plan is a move down to cruiserweight and focus on domestic titles. Namely the Southern Area and English titles, held by Iain Martell and Deion Jumah respectively. Coronavirus-lockdown has seen the Londoner keep on top of his training, as far as possible, and his weight has plummeted – leaving him well on course to compete in his favoured division.
It’s a more conventional solution than the jump to Olympic boxing, but an entirely sensible one. Charles’ shock loss to Razma could certainly be accredited to the fact that ‘Run Em Over’ was a small heavyweight. Now, with weight coming off fast, Charles says he’s feeling faster, sharper and punching harder.
“I kind of thought to myself that it would be a routine fight [against Razma],” said Charles. “The guy just came forward and I wasn’t prepared, I didn’t adapt in time and ultimately I under-estimated him. I realised, too, I was way over-weight. I was carrying around excess weight for no reason. That fight was a kick up the backside, in a good way.
“My aim was always to get to cruiser, but in my first few fights I just didn’t get there. Now, having lost some of the weight, I feel a lot more explosive and I have better stamina. I feel like I’m punching harder too.”
Harnessing his natural punching power will no-doubt be key to Charles’ future in the sport. He says his jab is his best punch and bases his style on that of his boyhood hero, Lennox Lewis, who was a master of the shot.
But the Edmonton boxer also showed he carries some knockout power against the much larger Miles Willington. Charles is one of only two opponents to stop the Grantham man inside the distance. A crunching right hook, catching Willington on the ear, left him on the canvas. It will be interesting to see whether the St. Lucia international can carry that power into more evenly matched contests at cruiserweight.
“I’m a boxer-puncher,” he said. “Naturally, I’ve got power and that’s always going to be there. I just need to box more. I’m well-schooled and I’ve boxed all around the world in the amateurs. Also, I need to adapt well to what’s in-front of me. Like Bruce Lee said, you have to be like water.”
Thankfully, live boxing is gradually returning. For followers of Ryan Charles, this planned two-pronged attack is an unusual one. With his Olympic dream on the one hand, and domestic titles on the other, it’s going to be interesting to see if the hard-punching 33-year-old can make it work.