Callum Smith (22-0, 17 KOs) believes he will not only beat Erik Skoglund (26-0, 12 KOs) on Saturday in their quarter-final at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, but go all the way to take the Muhammad Ali Trophy.
The Liverpool fighter is the bookies’ and many experts favourite to take home the Ali Trophy next year in May. And 27-year-old Smith approves the odds.
“From the outside looking in, I am possibly not the obvious favourite because I am still relatively unproven at the highest level,” said Smith.
“You have George Groves who is a World Champion, who you could say could be favourite, he’ll probably be a bit annoyed that he is not.
“But from my point of view, yeah I think I am the best in the tournament so yes, I do agree with it. It is a privilege to be called the favourite, but it is just an opinion. I have to do my job now and go on and win it,” said Smith.
But first things first. On Saturday he faces 26-year-old Skoglund, the Swedish undefeated challenger.
“I have been enjoying camp, it has been going very well,” said Smith. “I know I have to be at my best to win. My trainer Joe Gallagher and I have watched Skoglund a lot, and he is a good fighter, he is a good all-rounder. He does the basics very well.”
“But everything he does, I do a little better. As long as the best version of me turns up, I will beat the best version of him,” said Smith.
“I am excited to be the first British fighter to get in the ring in the tournament. I just cannot wait to be a part of it. I think the fans will be thinking the same, with me being the first Briton in it, it will probably be their first look at the tournament. So I am not feeling pressure, more excitement.”
“I will win this fight, I always predict a win. If I can catch Skoglund and get him out of there it is a bonus, but I have been preparing for 12 tough rounds.”
World Boxing Super Series action comes to the east coast as the cruiserweight quarter-final showdown between IBF champion Murat “Iron” Gassiev (24-0, 17 KOs) and former world champion Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (53-3-1, 37 KOs) is set for Saturday, October 21 at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
Promoted by Ringstar Sports in association with World Boxing Super Series, tickets for the live event are on sale now and are available at Ticketmaster.com. Tickets will also be available to purchase at the Prudential Center box office beginning Monday, September 11 at 11 a.m. “It’s a great pleasure to promote this exciting World Boxing Super Series matchup,” said Richard Schaefer, Chairman and CEO of Ringstar Sports.
“Murat Gassiev is clearly one of the top cruiserweights in the world but he will have a great obstacle against the battle-tested former champion Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, who will have a big boost from the raucous Polish fans in New Jersey. Prudential Center is the perfect venue for this event and I know that the fans will enjoy this matchup as both men vie for the Muhammad Ali Trophy.” “It’s so exciting that the Ali Trophy is coming to a fighting place like New Jersey,” said Kalle Sauerland, Comosa’s Chief Boxing Officer. “Hold tight and enjoy the ride, October 21 is going to be a unique experience, think ‘Game of Thrones’ meets boxing. Can’t wait!”
A full slate of undercard bout will be announced soon. “I promise that I’m going to come to the ring to win and do everything possible to get this victory,” said Gassiev. “I want to take advantage of this opportunity to fight the best boxers in my weight class.”
“I have a very serious opponent in Krzysztof Wlodarczyk who is a two-time world champion and his resume speaks for itself. He has fought the best and I’m looking forward to a very hard fight.”
“It is a great honor for me to fight in the World Boxing Super Series for the Muhammad Ali Trophy,” said Wlodarczyk. “I trained for two weeks in the Polish mountains and now I am back in Warsaw putting in the work for October 21.”
“I am very happy to have the opportunity to fight a champion like Murat Gassiev. He is a young, strong champion like I was a few years ago but I am ready to show that I am still the best in the division.”
One of the hardest punchers in the sport, Gassiev trains with Abel Sanchez in Big Bear, California and hails from Vladikavkaz, Russia. The 23-year-old made his U.S. debut in 2015 and delivered four straight knockout victories, including a “Knockout of the Year” contender when he flattened Jordan Schimmel in the first round in May 2016.
Gassiev then challenged Denis Lebedev in Russia last December and was able to drop the champion on his way to winning the IBF title. Fighting out of Piaseczno, Poland, Wlodarczyk first became a world champion when he defeated Steve Cunningham in 2006 to capture the IBF crown. After fighting to a draw against WBC Champion Giacobbe Fragomeni in 2009, Wlodarczyk stopped Fragomeni in their 2010 rematch to become a champion again. He would go on to defend the title six times and enters his October 21 matchup on a four fight winning streak
COMOSA AG and MP & Silva, the sports media rights agency, acting as the sales agent on behalf of the World Boxing Super Series, are pleased to announce an exclusive media rights agreement with Türk Telekom and Match TV to showcase the inaugural 2017/18 season of the World Boxing Super Series and its quest for the Muhammad Ali Trophy.
Türk Telekom is the first integrated telecommunications operator in Turkey, and will cover all Fight Nights of the World Boxing Super Series 2017/18, with the first quarter-final fight on September 9th.
The tournament will be of particular interest to Turkish audiences as the quarter-final on October 7th sees Turkish boxer Avni Yildirim take on the No. 3 seed Chris Eubank Jr. (IBO Champion). The fight is to be held in Stuttgart, Germany. There is also particular local interest from the Russian fans as both Russian IBF World Champions Murat Gassiev (fighting against Krzysztof Wlodarczyk on the 21st October) and ‘The Russian Hammer’ Dmitry Kudryashov (fighting against Yunier Dorticos on the 23rd September) are competing in the tournament.
MP & Silva’s CEO, Jochen Lösch: “Türk Telekom is a fantastic premium partner to showcase the World Boxing Super Series and the perfect platform for the tournament in Turkey. I’m thrilled to announce this important partnership.” He also said: “I’m very pleased that Russian fans will be able to watch the World Boxing Super Series on Match TV, the premium Russian sports media broadcaster.”
Roger Lodewick, COMOSA’s Chief Commercial Officer: “We’re delighted to have Türk Telekom as our partner in Turkey. Türk Telekom is a strong and innovative partner with key sporting properties like the UEFA Champions League on their platform. The World Boxing Super Series is also providing the best of the best and as a result we see this partnership as an acknowledgement of the premium level of the quest for the Muhammad Ali Trophy.” Continuing about the partnership with Match TV, “Match TV is the premium sports media partner in Russia, and the perfect home for the World Boxing Super Series. We are very pleased that the Russian audience and boxing fans will have the chance to watch the Muhammad Ali Trophy on Match TV.”
Türk Telekom said in a statement: “We are proud to be the broadcaster of the World Boxing Super Series on Türk Telekom Tivibu. Also, we are happy to bring together Turkish talent Avni Yıldırım with Turkish sports fans; in addition to 2.3 million subscribers. World Boxing Super Series will be available with highlights and clips on free platforms such as tivibuspor.com and Tivibu Sports Free to air channel with exclusive live programs. Muhammad Ali is an iconic and significant name for Turkish sport fans at all times. Therefore, we are confident that the World Boxing Super Series will be this year’s one of the best sports event in Turkey. We are planning to broadcast all games and every small detail of Muhammad Ali Trophy in Turkey, as well.”
Furthermore media rights agreements have been concluded in Bulgaria (Nova), Ukraine (Inter), Singapore (StarHub), Belgium (VOO) and Sub-Saharan Africa (TVMS).
What if there’s a draw? Understanding the 4th judge
A unique boxing tournament requires special rules. In the World Boxing Super Series there will be an additional fourth judge whose scorecard will be used if the main three judges deliver a draw result.
Here is how the fourth judge can come into play:
In the case of an Ali Trophy bout ending in a draw on the three official judges’ scorecards, or ends as a no contest or no decision and the official master-scorecard, containing the three official judges scores does not determine a winner, the scorecard of the fourth judge will be added to the master-score-card to determine who advances to the next round of the tournament, or wins the Muhammad Ali Trophy.
If two of the now four judges score the bout in favour of one Boxer A, and at least one of the other two of the four judges score the bout a draw, such result shall be considered that Boxer A shall advance to the next round of the tournament.
Count Back and how it works:
If the bout still remains a draw, after adding the fourth judge’s scorecards to the master-scorecard result, then the World Boxing Super Series will use the ‘Count Back’ method in order to determine who advances in the tournament.
The Count Back method is a ‘sudden death’ method of scoring using the three official judges’ scorecards to determine who advances. Beginning with the scorecards for the 12th or last round that occurred, the boxer who won that particular round on at least a majority of the three scorecards will advance.
If the bout was scored evenly in the 12th round or the last round that occurred, the advancing boxer will then be determined by who won at least a majority of rounds in the preceding round.
If neither boxer won the next to the last round on at last on a majority of the three official judge’s scorecards, each preceding rounds scorecards will be examined until a round where one boxer was declared the winner of that round on at least the majority of the three officials’ scorecards.
‘Instant replays’ will be used to help assess controversial situations.
Things got heated at the final press conference with WBO World Champion Aleksandr Usyk and Marco Huck before their Ali Trophy quarter-final on Saturday at the Max-Schmeling-Halle in Berlin, Germany.
During the classic head to head photo after the press conference, Huck pushed his Ukrainian opponent who managed to stay calm.
“I wanted to show Usyk that he is my hometown and that he should be prepared for the battle of his life on Saturday,” said Huck.
At the press conference there were no signs of hostility:
“If you want to be a great champion, you have to beat the best and Huck is one of the best,” said Aleksandr Usyk. “I chose to enter this tournament because it is a path to achieve my dream of unifying all the belts.”
“There’s a prestigious trophy at stake too, the Muhammad Ali Trophy. We were born on the same day and I admire Ali because he is the biggest role model in boxing and I will thank God if I win a trophy with his name on it.”
“I’m glad to here in Berlin,” said Marco Huck. “I have been giving many victory interviews in Berlin. It is an important fight. For me, it is about the fight against Aleksandr. I have been more tested in my battles than he has. Usyk should prepare for a war on Saturday.”
“My performance is the most important, I have no fear stepping up against Aleksandr. When I am at my best I can beat anybody.”
“It is lovely to be in Berlin,” said Kalle Sauerland, Comosa’s Chief Boxing Officer. “It is lovely to have the premiere of the World Boxing Super Series here. It is great to be sitting on the stage with two amazing athletes. Usyk, an Olympic champion a world champion and Huck, the joined record holder of most title defences in boxing. For boxing fan, it doesn’t get much better than this.”
“Huck has something in common with Usyk – he wants to fight the best,” said Huck’s trainer Conny Mittermeier. “I don’t see Usyk as the favourite in this fight. The winner of this fight will be the last man standing.”
Former five-time World Champion Mikkel Kessler believes Erik Skoglund (26-0, 12 KOs) will upset the odds and defeat hometown hero Callum Smith (22-0, 17 KOs) on September 16 at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.
Smith and Skoglund go head-to-head in the first super middleweight quarter-final of the World Boxing Super Series, and having previously sparred Skoglund, Kessler is backing the Swedish fighter to progress to the semi-finals.
“I remember those sparring sessions we had four years ago before my second fight with Carl Froch, and Erik has developed a lot since then”, said Kessler.
“I have watched quite a lot of Smith, he’s very big for the weight and he’s a great fighter, but if Erik employs the right tactics, he has an excellent chance of winning. He must believe in himself and not be affected by Callum having the whole city of Liverpool backing him.”
Kessler has recently enjoyed some tough sparring sessions with Skoglund ahead of his own hotly anticipated comeback, and the Danish legend reveals that the Swedish underdog has all the necessary tools to cause an upset.
“Erik did well in the sparring with me and he is certainly in very good shape. Make no mistake about Erik, he is a very tough guy.
“It’s good to be underdog”, said Kessler. “The main thing is that Erik needs to believe in himself. I believe in him and I will be rooting for him.
MIAMI, FLA. – While Southern Florida braces for Hurricane Irma, red hot light heayweight Sullivan Barrera continues to train for what he hopes is an explosive end of year showdown.
After stopping Paul Parker and beating Joe Smith Jr. on the bright lights of HBO, Barrera has his sights set firmly on facing two-division champion Badou Jack before the calendar turns over to 2018.
“First off I want to say congratulations on beating Nathan Cleverly. I know you said you want to fight Adonis Stevenson but he has to face his mandatory next. I want your WBA belt around my waist. You know that your style and my style will make for an explosive fight. I’m sure the fans would want to see the fight. I would love to fight Kovalev too but me and you are both off big wins so let’s do this,” said Barrera after a recent training session.
With Stevenson likely facing his mandatory next and Andre Ward talking about moving up to cruiserweight or heavyweight, Barrera is the best option for Jack as well. With his fan friendly style and Latino fan base, what excuse would Jack have for not having him?
“I haven’t ever seen Badou back down from a challenge so why would he start with me? It is simple, he needs an opponent and so do I. The ball is in your court Badou. Do you accept my challenge?”
Tim VanNewhouse, Nieves’ co-manager, says he and his partner couldn’t be happier with their fighter’s achievement. “It’s very rewarding to David McWater and I to see Antonio get to this level. He will be the first under the Split-T family of fighters to fight for a world title.”