AS we mentioned in last week’s Boxing News, knockout tournaments are a wonderful concept in theory – sort contenders from pretenders, bring clarity to a convoluted game – but rarely climax with the happy ending their endeavour warrants.
This is proving the case with the (otherwise superb) World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) season one, particularly the super-middleweight tournament, as today, nearly two weeks after the announcement of a new bantamweight line-up, we still don’t know whether the best 168-pound fighter is George Groves, Callum Smith or…erm, Chris Eubank Jr.
Poor Kalle Sauerland has been adamant the super-middleweight mess needs to be resolved this summer – before season two gets underway – and promised some sort of resolution within 10 days of announcing his bantamweight series (on May 9). This timeframe, however, has now passed and we’re none the wiser.
There have been indications Groves’ shoulder is back on the mend and that he is punching again, but still there is no announcement.
Good to see @StGeorgeGroves on the pads with @McGuigans_Gym and regaining strength in his shoulder.#boxing pic.twitter.com/olYHKR5Gzw
— Boxing News (@BoxingNewsED) May 22, 2018
There are also suggestions Smith, the fit finalist, is focusing on Groves rather than Eubank Jr, the natural middleweight (and Groves victim) touted as a replacement should Groves’ gammy shoulder scupper plans. But, again, to what end nobody really knows.
Warming up for today’s session @WBCBoxing Diamond Champ getting ready for his @WBSuperSeries final showdown with @WBABoxing World Champ @StGeorgeGroves for the Ali Trophy #Mundo #WBSS pic.twitter.com/DqsUBZE4FH
— Joe Gallagher (@JoeG) May 22, 2018
With the bantamweight tournament already announced, and a further two weight classes set to be added to season two, the super-middleweights and cruiserweights (their final will be contested by Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev but is also currently without a date and location) are in danger of becoming yesterday’s news.
Prediction: the final will be Groves vs. Smith and it will take place in July or August.
Birmingham’s Khalid Yafai makes his American debut on Saturday night (May 26) and should come through a WBA super-flyweight title defence against David Carmona with little difficulty whatsoever.
His Mexican opponent, 21-5-5 (9), has lost three of his last four fights, albeit in decent company, and would appear ready-made for Yafai to look good against, wow the California fans, and potentially attract the attention of IBF super-flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas, who competes in the main event against Jonas Sultan.
That, for Yafai, must be the plan.
“A unification could be next, but all I’m thinking about is this (Carmona) fight, looking good and getting the win,” Yafai, 23-0 (14), told Sky Sports. “Then, afterwards, we will sit down with the team and see what is next.
“I will fight anyone, and I want to establish myself as the man in the division. When any of these guys (champions) get offered to me, I will be more than ready and happy to take them out, one after another.”
In addition to the winner of Ancajas vs. Sultan, there’s also a possibility Yafai might target WBC king Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, the brilliant Thai considered the number one fighter in the division following two wins over the great Ramon Gonzalez.
Finally, because he’s the world’s greatest journeyman-cum-contender, some Lolenga Mock news.
I’m pleased to announce ‘Lumumba Boy’ will look to make it 12 wins in a row on September 15 when he takes on Avni Yildirim, the Turk best-known for soaking up a 104-punch combination from Chris Eubank Jr last year en route to a third-round stoppage loss.
Stylistically, it should be a fun, action-packed fight. Yildirim, as shown against Eubank Jr, refuses to take a backwards step, and Mock, too, is well-versed in the art of inside fighting.
What’s more, thanks to Mock’s recent run of form, which includes 11 straight wins, the fight carries significance and the winner could very well be close to a title shot of some description (and, let’s face it, there are enough to go around these days).
A title shot would be no more than Mock deserves. The great Dane, now 46, was last seen beating Dmitry Chudinov in January and has been a professional for an astonishing 27 years. If that’s not shocking enough, how about this? Back in May 1991, the night Mock made his pro debut in the Congo, his next opponent, 26-year-old Yildirim, was yet to even be born.
Talk about longevity.