A new tournament, the World Boxing Super Series is getting underway later this year. The idea is that it slots into the existing competitive framework that boxing already has but leads entrants to prize money and ultimately the ‘Muhammad Ali trophy.’
The inaugural tournament will involve two weight classes, super-middleweight and cruiserweight. Boxers who have already confirmed their entry are WBA super-middleweight champ George Groves, WBC cruiserweight champ Mairis Briedis, IBF cruiser champ Murat Gassiev and Krzysztof Wlodarczyk.
“It works with promoters. It’s not about taking over and promoting, trying to take fighters away, it’s working with promoters and it’s working with the sanctioning bodies,” Kalle Sauerland told Boxing News. “We’re going to work with all different promoters and try to put on the best versus the best. The first few we’re going to work on are the cruiserweights and the super-middleweights and we’ll see where it goes from there. It’s not a single season tournament, that’s not the idea… It’s planned to work over many years.”
The concept is significantly different from Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions. “Premier Boxing Champions, it’s totally different. The PBC has a huge amount of power in the States, has signed a lot of fighters. I think they’ve put on some great fights. This is not a promotional concept, it’s not trying to be a new sanctioning body. It’s not trying to be anything that’s taking away from what exists. It’s a tournament in the sport. It’s an invitation tournament. No one’s signed up afterwards, the belts are in and out and if they lose they’re out. It’s similar to other sports. There’s no delays in this tournament if fighters are injured, the tournament moves on. There’s no hold up, there’s no wait,” Sauerland said.
“It’s fixed dates, September, October are the quarter-finals. January, February semis and the final’s in May.”
Sauerland explained, “The people behind it are a company called Highlight, which is a family of companies that started the Champions League football in the 90s and Modern Times group, one of the largest, stock listed companies in media and entertainment in Europe and those are the two principle shareholders. We developed an idea over four years, a pretty basic idea, quarter-finals, semi-finals, final, with the Ali [name] as the ambassador, the Ali family, the Ali estate, to create a tournament which wouldn’t take away anything. So we’re not interested in replacing belts or doing anything with belts. The ecosystem of boxing should survive. It should add to the sport.”