The ‘World Boxing Super Series’ moves forward – to Miami?
The ‘World Boxing Super Series’ could not have scripted its cruiserweight semifinals any better. With IBF beltholder Murat Gassiev halting Krzysztof Wlodarczyk in three rounds with a paralyzing left hook to the body at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, he is now paired with the hard-hitting Cuban and WBA titlist Yunier Dorticos, who blasted out Dmitry Kudryashov in two innings on September 23 in San Antonio, Texas, in his quarterfinal bout.
The other side of the bracket will see WBO titleholder Oleksandr Usyk against WBC beltholder Mairis Briedis. This means the semis will feature all four cruiserweight champions, who have a combined mark of 82-0 with 67 knockouts.
Now the question is: When and where will these much-anticipated bouts take place?
Richard Schaefer, the Chairman of the Americas for Comosa AG/WBSS, told UCNLive.com on Tuesday afternoon, “It’s really funny; there’s suddenly tremendous interest, globally. I swear on my kids; I just got a call right now from Russia. So they’re interested in the Gassiev fight. There’s a group of business people from Miami; they would love to bring the fight to Miami. They said that Miami has not really supported boxing but they will support this event, that it would sell out in Miami.”
(Gassiev-Dorticos in Dade County? Yeah, sounds good to me.)
“So there’s tremendous interest; we saw that Saudi Arabia – and I know what the number is. It is a HUGE, tremendous number – which they offered but we signed the deal to have the cruiserweight final in Saudi Arabia,” Schaefer stated. “There are different networks interested; there’s a lot of buzz and interest globally about the tournament. Even in the 168 pound weight class, there are really mouthwatering match-ups with (Chris) Eubank Jr. against (WBA titleholder) George Groves. There’s some good stuff there, as well. There’s a lot of excitement in the U.K.”
The super middleweight portion of the quarterfinals wraps up this week as American Rob Brant faces Jurgen Braehmer, in Germany, for the right to face Callum Smith.
As for when the semis will take place, Schaefer said, “So we’re looking at two dates for the semifinals, two in January and two in February. As it relates to the venues, I would love to have at least one of those semifinals in the U.S. and, if I could have my pick, it would be Dorticos ‘The KO Doctor’ versus the ‘Iron Man’ Murat Gassiev because, I think, irrespective of weight classes, it’s one of the best match-ups in the sport you can make.”
One of the few (yet legitimate) complaints from boxing fans in the States is that the WBSS is not on a larger television platform. The first few quarterfinal fights were streamed on its website and, more recently, a deal was cut with the Audience Network, which has a limited reach. But moving forward, Schaefer believes the upcoming bouts will be on a larger stage.
“Yes, I do believe so,” he said with confidence, “and the first step, the quarterfinals and the period leading into it, there was a lot of doubt in people’s minds, whether it was fight fans or media, fighters, other promoters, managers, TV networks, sponsors, on and on. Everybody was very doubtful that such a challenging concept could really become reality. People had their question marks.
“I had my question marks in the beginning, as well, Then, as I said before, with the quality of people behind the concept and the kind of financial wherewithal they had, I was quickly convinced that this is a group that could pull it off – and that’s what they’ve done. They’re really pulled off the greatest boxing tournament and I’m pleased to be a part of it.”
The group Schaefer is speaking of is Comosa AG, which raised $50 million in prize money for this venture.
So while there’s still plenty of fighting to be done for the remainder of this tournament, there is already some looking ahead to the second chapter of the WBSS. “When I was at the Prudential Center, this past weekend, I met with some of the fellow executives and board members and they actually started having conversations with me about potential future weight classes for Season Two,” said Schaefer, who is also the head of his own promotional outfit Ringstar Sports.
“So that seems to indicate to me that, yes, there’s definitely a good chance that there’s going to be a second seaon and future season,” he continued. “That’s the plan and we are discussing, as well, what weight classes. I think what is important to have in the second season is weight classes which might have more of the names. I can’t say the match-ups because it’s impossible to have the experience we’ve had here with the cruiserweights – but maybe where the name recognition is a little bit bigger for fights here in the United States. So I’m talking about Americans, Mexicans, those sort of fighters can be part of it.”
What are necessary are fertile divisions with willing participants. There will also still be an emphasis on making this a worldwide event.
“What immediately jumps to mind is some of the lower weight classes,” said Schaefer, “whether it’s 118 or 122 or 126, somewhere in and around those weight classes. There’s a lot of Americans, a lot of Mexicans, as well as Asians, some Europeans. So I think there are some very big names around those weight classes.”
Told there are “a lot of moving parts” regarding to the December 9 HBO card they are trying to salvage, now that Miguel Berchelt dropped out of his assignment against Orlando Salido…North Carolina State vs. Notre Dame is a game I’m really looking forward to…A big fight in Miami would be great, actually never covered a fight in Florida…What’s going on with Cam Newton?…Probably won’t watch a complete NBA game till around February…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.