RICHARD SCHAEFER is no stranger to making bold statements, and the veteran promoter has let loose with several over one of his latest ventures – the World Boxing Super Series.
Working alongside Kalle and Nisse Sauerland, Schaefer has helped develop the 16-man tournament, which spans two weight classes and kicks off in September.
Schaefer, having worked with the likes of Floyd Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya, knows how to pull off huge promotions but feels this inaugural Super Series is bigger than those Las Vegas nights.
“I’m very proud to play a part in this, I like to do things big and this is bigger than anything I’ve ever done,” he told Boxing News.
“I’ve done some big things – this is bigger than the Mayweather or De La Hoya fights because it’s not just one and done, this is about the legacy of Ali, it’s about elevating the sport, bringing first-class production values to fans and new fans and this isn’t about one fight, it’s about the entire concept. It really trumps one fight.
“I’ve been involved in boxing for a long time, I’ve done big fights, the biggest fights, but you know what? We have been missing quality like this. In boxing, we have never seen quality like this. I think that in itself will elevate boxing and it will give credibility to sponsors, to media partners, to fans.
“I think this one here sets a new standard as it relates to tournaments, it really is the Champions League of boxing. This is first class.”
The idea came from Kalle Sauerland, who has been working on it for several years and approached Schaefer 18 months ago to see if he would like to get on board. He admits that, at first, his instincts warned him against such an ambitious proposal.
However, when he met with Kalle and bore witness to high level of investment and commitment to making the tournament work, Schaefer was convinced.
“To do something like this with this sort of production value, it’s unknown to boxing. That is what attracted me when I first got approached,” he explained.
“I got a call from Kalle, he said he had something to show me and asked to meet. He said ‘what about in two days?’ So he prepared a room in the most exclusive hotel in Los Angeles, and as I walked into the boardroom it was decorated with all this imagery and branding. They gave me a black leather notebook with the embossed logo, a pen made by a famous Swiss pen-maker, Caran d’Ache, with the World Boxing Super Series logo. Everything was thought through, to the last detail.
“As I sat there, I was sceptical, as we boxing people often are when someone tries to coin something new, it’s a little bit ingrained in us boxing people to be negative. So I was a bit sceptical but as the presentation went on and after I asked some questions – which they answered flawlessly – I said ‘count me in,’ right there in that meeting. It takes a lot to impress me, but I was impressed.”
From there, they set about deciding which weight classes would be involved and what fighters they could get on board. The two divisions for this first year of the Series are super-middleweight and cruiserweight.
They both feature some of the best operators in the world – particularly the cruiserweight class, which features three of the four reigning world champions – and the excellent production values, not to mention the vast sums of money on offer, saw them all sign up with relatively little fuss.
“Initially fighters, their managers, their promoters are a bit sceptical about it as well. I think as we moved forward and we delivered what we said we would deliver and the fighters and their managers saw the quality of the presentations and everything on offer – and let’s face it, the money involved as well – they embraced it quickly,” Schaefer mused.
“I wouldn’t say it was easy, it was a lot of hard work getting these contracts signed. It was a long process but I wouldn’t say it was a very difficult process.
“I really believe that if you’re a fighter, you know how good you are and when you go into that ring it’s because you believe you’re going to win and because you want to challenge yourself. These fighters, as young boys they dreamed of this kind of opportunity to unify world titles, that’s what they train for every day. For us to deliver that for them, it’s about them fighting the best.”