This Saturday (September 9th) marks the premiere of World Boxing Super Series (WBSS), a new venture co-founded by Sauerland Promotions and former Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer. The World Boxing Super Series is all about the tournament format, and is in fact the first time since the Super Six World Boxing Classic (2009-2011) that we’ve had a major professional boxing tournament.
While it’s unlikely to garner much interest among casual fans, this is something many serious boxing observers (such as myself) will be paying close attention to and hoping that it succeeds. For inquiring minds, here’s a breakdown on what you need to know about the WBSS.
What tournament system will the WBSS use?
Unlike the Super Six, which used a convoluted, round-robin system, with the top four advancing to the semifinals based on point totals, the World Boxing Super Series is strictly single-elimination.
Which divisions will be featured in season 1?
Super-middleweight (168 lbs) and cruiserweight (200 lbs). Each tournament will have eight fighters. As you’ll find out a little bit later on, the cruiserweight division is the vastly superior field in terms of quality.
How long are the tournaments supposed to run?
The quarterfinals will run in September and October 2017, with the semifinals in January-February 2018, then the respective finals will be set for May. Eight months is a hell of a lot shorter than the 2+ years it took for the Super Six tourney to complete.
How much prize money is on the line?
Each tournament will divvy up $25 million US in prize money, making for $50 million overall. The tournament champions will receive the Muhammad Ali Trophy, and The winner of each tournament could earn at least $10 million.
Where will the fights be staged?
Supposedly it’ll be seven fights in the United States and seven scattered throughout Europe.
Which fighters are competing in the two tournaments, and when are they fighting?
Super Middleweight bracket
#1 “Saint” George Groves (WBA champion - 26-3, 19 KO) vs Jamie Cox (23-0, 13 KO) - October 14th in London, England
#3 Chris “Next Gen” Eubank Jr (25-1, 19 KO) vs Avni “Mr. Robot” Yildirim (16-0, 10 KO) - October 7th in Stuttgart, Germany
#2 Callum “Mundo” Smith (22-0, 17 KO) vs Erik Skoglund (26-0, 12 KO) - September 16th in Liverpool, England
#4 Juergen Braehmer (48-3, 35 KO) vs Rob “Bravo” Brant (22-0, 15 KO) - TBA date and venue reportedly in the United States
Both Skoglund and Braehmer are moving down from light heavyweight, whereas Brant, who is the only American in either bracket, is coming up from middleweight. Half of the super-middleweight field hails from the United Kingdom. Groves is the only champion here, having finally gotten his hands on a title with his TKO win over Fedor Chudinov in May.
#1 Oleksandr “The Cat” Usyk (WBO champion - 12-0, 10 KO) vs Marco “Captain” Huck (40-4-1, 27 KO) - September 9th in Berlin, Germany
#3 Mairis Briedis (WBC champion - 22-0, 18 KO) vs Mike “The Rebel” Perez (22-2-1, 14 KO) - September 30th in Riga, Latvia
#2 Murat “Iron” Gassiev (IBF champion - 24-0, 17 KO) vs Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (53-3-1, 37 KO) - reportedly October 21st in TBD venue in the United States
#4 Yunier “The KO Doctor” Dorticos (WBA secondary champion - 21-0, 20 KO) vs Dmitry “The Russian Hammer” Kudryashov (21-1, 21 KO) - September 23rd in San Antonio, Texas
Make no mistake about it, the cruiserweight field is stacked. The only major champion not participating is WBA titleholder Denis Lebedev, who did recently lose to Gassiev but didn’t put his belt on the line. Marco Huck is a former longtime champ who’s admittedly on the downside of his career, but is still a top-10 fighter.
Will these championship belts be defended?
Yes. Theoretically, the cruiserweight final should be a unification bout and determine an undisputed #1 fighter in the division.
Will there be alternates?
Yes. Krzysztof Głowacki (27-1, 17 KOs) and Mateusz Masternak (39-4, 26 KOs) are the reserves in case one of the cruiserweights drop out due to injury. Patrick Nielsen (29-1, 14 KOs) is a confirmed reserve at super-middleweight, and in fact has been booked on the undercard of George Groves vs. Jamie Cox in a 10-rounder against John Ryder.
What happens in the event of a draw?
Since every fight is scheduled for 12 rounds and there’s no “sudden victory” scenario like you see on The Ultimate Fighter, you do have to worry about a draw derailing things. Here’s the solution: (via Fight News)
According to promoter Kalle Sauerland, the World Boxing Super Series will take special measures to prevent draws. First, instead of three judges, there will be four judges scoring the fight. However, the fourth scorecard will only be used if the other three cards result in a draw. In the event the fourth card is also a draw, the winner of the final round will decide who moves ahead in the tournament. Sauerland points out that this rule change has been approved by all four world organizations. In addition, he stated that “instant replay” will be used to help assess controversial situations, and all fighters are subject to VADA testing.
What’s the television rights situation?
If you live in Europe or Canada then you are in great shape. Canada’s Super Channel network will air the WBSS in its entirety, and deals have also been struck in places like Germany, the Netherlands, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia, and Slovenia. On Monday, it was announced that ITV had snagged exclusive rights in the United Kingdom.
Hopefully a broadcast deal for the United States is finalized soon, especially if half the tournament is taking place in the US. Truth be told, as great as the WBSS concept is, if there’s minimal American involvement and many of these matchups are airing in what would be midday in the US, it’s a difficult sell even to HBO or Showtime.
Will Bloody Elbow have coverage of the World Boxing Super Series?
You better believe it! And so will Bad Left Hook. We’ll have tournament previews ready for you later in the week.