THIS much we know. The World Boxing Super Series semi-finals are looming. The first set of semi-finals take place later this month on April 27 in America, when Regis Prograis fights Kiryl Relikh, the WBA super-lightweight champion, with Nonito Donaire meeting fearsome Zolani Tete in a WBA and WBO bantamweight unification on the same bill at the Cajun Dome in Lafayette.
“Tete is a formidable opponent. He is tall, he is fast, he is slick,” Donaire admitted. “But I am a fighter that can fight any kind of style. I can’t wait to the to show the crowd what we’ve been working on.
“I believe the major difference is building upon what we had in the [Ryan] Burnett fight. I made sure to continue to stay disciplined with my diet and continue to be at the gym. As I said, it wasn’t completely 100% boxing throughout and we did implement training outside of the boxing gym and different drills as well. We made sure to have rest when needed so we could turn it up in these last couple weeks.”
The next round of semi-finals will take place at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow on May 18. Naoya Inoue will meet IBF bantamweight champion Emanuel Rodriguez in a tremendous match up. Josh Taylor will headline the bill and he is supposed to be challenging for his first world title against Ivan Baranchyk. That’s what Taylor is training for and that’s what the World Boxing Super Series expect and tickets for that fight are on sale. A reserve though will be announced soon, expected to be named this week, and might be needed. There is a risk that Baranchyk pulls out, his own manager told ESPN last month that that was their intention. Whether he can actually pull his man out of the competition, and retain the IBF world title however remains to be seen. Kalle Sauerland of the World Boxing Super Series has pointed out that “there is a fully binding contract for the fight”. He previously told Boxing News that “to travel to Scotland is an issue but in the end I think they understand the logistics of the WBSS”.
While DAZN will broadcast the events in the United States, the quarter-finals have been shown on Youtube in the UK. There is greater uncertainty around the second series of than the triumphant first edition of the tournament that crowned Callum Smith and Oleksandr Usyk as the inaugural winners of the Muhammad Ali trophy. But Josh Taylor can still emerge from it a star. If he gets the right fight in Glasgow he can establish himself as Scotland’s great hope and if the tournament does eventually pit him against Regis Prograis later this year that could be the breakthrough Taylor needs.
British boxing is waiting for its next generation of stars, after the retirements of Tony Bellew, George Groves, James DeGale and more. Expect Josh Taylor to be in the vanguard of the big names coming through.