With the end in sight for the two tournaments of the inaugural World Boxing Super Series, WBSS, it’s only natural to look to the future and to predict what the following tournaments may hold for the boxing public.
Before one can predict the future however, it’s important to understand how the WBSS came about, and maybe what’s limiting a truly global audience. The idea for a boxing tournament isn’t new, with the Super Six being the most obvious example running between 2009 and 2011, but the idea of running a regular tournament year on year hasn’t really happened in recent times, with the web of promoters, TV networks and fighters’ demands likely putting off potential investors. It’s therefore lucky of course that though the tournament is headed by Sauerland Promotions and Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions the tournament itself is owned by Comosa AG which in turn is owned by further companies. One is Highlight, a Swiss company responsible for starting the Champions League, a massive European football tournament. One is Modern Times one of the largest European stock listed entertainment companies, and the final major shareholder is Sauerland Promotions themselves. This backing of big business allows a little financial leeway for the tournament and goes some way in providing the $50m combined purse for the two tournaments attracting the top fighters, and in general it has been a success. Though there hasn’t been a US TV deal, Schaefer is on the lookout, and with the calibre of fighters entered combined with the quality of fights it seems unlikely that it will be lacking a broadcaster for long.
The two tournaments, which are currently ongoing, are in the Super-Middleweight and Cruiserweight divisions. This lack of a lighter weight is something that Schaefer is very much looking into and so it’s here we shall start to assess our options.
In the lighter weights the marquee division is 126, Featherweight, with top names littered all the way down to the bottom of the top 10, Frampton, Santa Cruz, Russell Jnr, Quigg, Selby to name a few. However while the names are good there is two issues with a featherweight tournament. The first is that they seem to be willing to engage with each other without a WBSS, with fights like Frampton Donaire, and Selby Warrington pencilled in and Valdez Quigg already taken place. The second issue is that nearly all of these fighters are managed by Al Haymon who hasn’t yet shown a willingness to enter one of his fighters into the tournament. One can only predict if he’d risk entering in a fighter which could potentially compete with his Premier Boxing Champions model.
If Feather is out of the question, what about Lightweight. A mix of good names, Davies, Linares, Campbell, it could work, but like with light middleweight while the quality would be high the fanbases are low so I’d be doubtful if it could draw that European wide audience. That being said however that hasn’t stopped the cruiserweight tournament being successful.
But that is the reason why I believe the Bantamweight division should be chosen for next year. A mix of top fighters McDonnell, Burnett, Tete and now Inoue, mixed with big fanbases and exciting styles. Eddie Hearn the promoter of McDonnell and Burnett has shown willingness to work with this new format with Callum Smith reaching the final in the 168 tournament, and shouldn’t stand in the way of a tournament at 118.
The second weight class is a little more of an open secret. Schaeffer has said on many occasions that Light- Heavyweight is the target for next year, and boxing fans can only be excited for that. 175 is a division that has been simmering very nicely for the past few years with new fighters such as Artur Beterbiev, Badou Jack and Dmitry Bivol adding to the talent pool, and with the ever present Sergey Kovalev looming over the division a tournament at 175 looks mouth-watering.
In summary, while the tournament is not without its detractors the World Boxing Super Series is what boxing fans have been calling out for, for years, and though it’s always easy to be negative when something new is released its important to embrace the new, because it’s these sorts of tournaments that attract new fans, new money and importantly the best fights. So whatever weight divisions the WBSS takes place at next year I will give it my full support and will be tuning in for every twist and turn and I hope that you do the same.