Saturday night in Monaco, the “World Boxing Super Series” kicked off it’s first official ceremony when the sixteen participants were matched up for their first bouts. In attendance were fourteen of the sixteen fighters, not present were super middleweights Chris Eubank Jr and Arthur Abraham who meet later this month. They were represented by Chris Eubank senior, who chose the opponent for the winner of that contest.
The super middleweights were matched up first, the four fighters “Seeded” meaning had choice of opponent were current WBA Super middleweight Champion George Groves, former multi time light heavyweight champion Juergen Braehmer, top five world ranked Callum Smith and depending on who wins their bout either former two division world champion Arthur Abraham or Chris Eubank Jr.
It would be George Groves picking first and his choice was undefeated countryman Jamie Cox, when asked why Jamie? The champion replied in jest “We are old friends, this is going to be a long tournament so I am going with the easiest first.”. As a response to Groves comments Cox stated “I am happy, its time to bury the seed” a pun referring to Groves being a seeded fighter and Cox unseeded. Those comments were made light heartedly by both men.
When second seeded fighter Callum Smith made his choice, he announced undefeated Erik Skoglund as the man he would like to face first. The two fighters were both happy with that decision, each feeling it was an opportuity to make a fight that would happen eventually despite the tournament.
The choice made by Chris Eubank senior, who was representing the third seeded super middleweight either winner his son Chris Eubank Jr or Arthur Abraham would be Turkish pressure fighter Avni Yildirim. A choice made because he feels Yildirim has a style “Perfect for my son after he beats Abraham, his style is much like Abraham’s and my son is an upgraded version of me.” He ignored the idea that it might be Abraham and not his son to face Yildirim.
The last matchup would be between Juergen Braehmer and only American fighter taking part of the tournament Rob Brant. While it was made because they were the last two left, Braehmer stated he would have chosen Brant anyway. As for Brant he stated surprise he was not choosen first, the MC replied “They were all afraid of you” to that Brant laughed before saying “I figured I was the least expereinced which is why they would have chosen me”.
In the cruiserweight bracket, WBO World Champion Oleksandr Usyk, WBC World Champion Mairis Briedis, IBF World Champion Murat Gassiev and Interim WBA World Champion Yunier Dorticos were the seeded fighters with choice of opponent. The tournaments only pre-determined bout, was between IBF World Champion Murat Gassiev and former world champion Krzysztof Wlodarczyk. That decision was made because Wlodarczyk is currently the mandatory challenger for Murat Gassiev. When asked if he was happy with this bout being pre-determined Gassiev stated “Yes he is the number one contender, he deserves the fight and it will be a great fight”, that opinion was shared by Wlodarczyk “I am very happy, he is a champion and very good fighter so we will make a great fight”.
The current WBO cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, would choose former long time WBO title holder Marco Huck as his first opponent ” I chose Huck for my fans it’s the fight they wanted to see”. When Huck was asked if happy as Usyk choice he responded ” He is the opponent I wished for “.
When WBC World Champion, Mairis Briedis chose Mike Perez as his first opponent he stated “He came down from heavyweight, he was the toughest opponent to choose from”. Perez stated he was pleased with Briedis choice because he would be fighting a current world champion. The left only interim WBA World Champion Yunier Dorticos and Russian knockout artist Dmitry Kudryashov, they are both big punchers and both stated they were happy with being left to face each other for that reason.
The tournament will begin in September and run through May of 2018, who ever wins will claim the prized “Muhammad Ali Trophy” which was designed by Silvio Gazzaniga who also designed the FIFA “World Cup”. These participants will share in $50,000,000 in prize money and the winners will be considered the best in their divisions. As of right now the current combined record of all sixteen fighters is an astonishing 468-22-3 with 334 of thoise wins coming by stoppage.
I don’t know of anyone who is a boxing fan that cannot be excited for this tournament to begin. At anytime on any card across the world every single one of these matchups are main event quality. This very well could be the biggest boxing tournament with the most talent ever to take place in boxing.
Here is the official bouts and records for the Quarter Final Contest
Oleksandr Usyk-(12-0, 10 KOs) Vs. Marco Huck- (40-4-1, 27 KOs)
Mairis Briedis- (22-0, 18 KOs) Vs. Mike Perez- (22-2-1, 14 KOs)
Krzysztof Wlodarczyk-(53-3-1, 37 KOs) Vs. Murat Gassiev-(24-0, 17 KOs)
Dmitry Kudryashov- (21-1, 21 KOs) Vs. Yunier Dorticos- (21-0, 20 KOs)
George Groves- (26-3, 19 KOs) Vs. Jamie Cox (23-0, 13 KOs)
. Callum Smith (22-0, 17 KOs) Vs. Erik Skoglund (26-0, 12 KOs)
. Juergen Braehmer- (48-3, 35 KOs) Vs. Rob Brant (22-0, 15 KOs)
Avni Yildirim (16-0,10 KOs) versus winner of Chris Eubank Jr (24-1,19KOs) and Arthur Abraham (46-5,30 KO’s)