The World Boxing Super Series is back for another season, as multiple champions are already slated to be a part of the tournament-based format.
One of the top boxing stories from 2017 was the emergence of the World Boxing Super Series. Unlike the disastrous and convoluted Super Six World Boxing Classic from years ago, the premise of WBSS was simple: single-elimination, eight-man tournament to be completed in under 12 months.
With the still ongoing first season deemed a success, fans can look forward to another season starting this fall.
“After a fantastic first season with super middleweight and cruiserweight, we have decided that bigger is better,” Promoter Kalle Sauerland said in Wednesday’s press conference. “So we are going out with three divisions in our second season.”
The bantamweight (118 lbs) division is included, while the other two will be announced later. It has been widely reported that the junior welterweight (140 lbs) division is the second tournament, while a third one could be one of light-heavyweight (175 lbs) or heavyweight.
Bantamweight is likely to remain the most stacked field, almost akin to the cruiserweight one. WBA champion Ryan Burnett (19-0, 9 KOs), IBF champion Manny Rodriguez (18-0, 12 KOs), and WBO champion Zolani Tete (27-3, 21 KOs) are all entered into the tournament. There is currently no WBC champion, as Luis Nery badly missed weight and was stripped of his title.
Another name expected to be in the fold is Japanese star Naoya Inoue (15-0, 13 KOs), who recently vacated his 115-pound title to move up in weight to challenge Jamie McDonnell on May 25th. If Inoue wins, he’ll most likely be part of the eight-man field, and that would be awesome.
Junior welterweight’s field is reportedly going to have WBA champion Keryl Relikh (22-2, 19 KOs) go up against former IBF champion Eduard Troyanovsky (27-1, 24 KOs) in one quarterfinal, while Ivan Baranchyk (18-0, 11 KOs) will challenge Anthony Yigit (21-0-1, 7 KOs) for the vacant IBF title in another quarterfinal. Highly touted prospect Regis Prograis (21-0, 18 KOs) and Ryan Martin (22-0, 12 KOs) will also be tournament-bound.
Terence Crawford previously held all four major junior welterweight belts, but vacated them all and moved up to welterweight.
Each winner will be awarded the Muhammad Ali Trophy, along with millions of dollars in prize money. One thing that WBSS seemingly provides is a way for boxers in less glamorous weight classes to earn career-high paydays by merely being in the tournament. It’s also a simpler path towards unifying boxing’s belts without the arduous negotiation process.
More details on season 2 of World Boxing Super Series will be made over the next several weeks, and maybe this time we’ll actually have a US television deal.
As for what’s left of the first season, the cruiserweight and super-middleweight finals are both expected to happen in July. Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev will compete for the undisputed cruiserweight crown, while Callum Smith should be taking on George Groves at super-middleweight, but if Groves can’t make the July date due to injury, a replacement may be required.