The star-studded World Boxing Super Series kicked off in style on Saturday night in Monaco when the quarter-final pairings were determined during the Draft Gala at the famed Grimaldi Forum.
In a 50-minute live TV show, all stars came face-to-face live on stage, with the top four seeds picking their opponents from the unseeded boxers. The quarter-finals will take place in September and October, with dates and venues to be announced in due course. The winners of the revolutionary bracket-style elimination tournament will receive the Muhammad Ali Trophy, The Greatest Prize in Boxing.
The cruiserweight line-up featured all four reigning champions, two former champions, a KO king and a rising challenger. Second-seed Murat Gassiev, the IBF Champion, did not get to pick an opponent because he has to face mandatory challenger Krzysztof Wlodarczyk. This left Olympic gold medal winner Oleksandr Usyk, the first seed, with Marco Huck, Dmitry Kudryashov and Perez as potential opponents. Usyk selected Huck, with third-seed Briedis then picking Perez. The choice meant ex-heavyweight Perez earned a shot at the WBC title in just his second fight at the cruiserweight limit and this also set up the clash between fourth-seeded Dorticos and “The Russian Hammer” Kudryashov.
“There could not have been a more exciting start to the World Boxing Super Series,” said Roberto Dalmiglio, Comosa’s Head of Management Board. “This tournament will change the face of boxing because it pits the best against the best in a fan-friendly way. The fans will get to see a lot of exciting fights in a very short time. Something like this has never been done before. We promised the best fighters out there and today we brought them all together live on stage in the stunning setting of the Grimaldi Forum.”
Said Kalle Sauerland, Comosa’s Chief Boxing Officer: “The last couple of days have been filled with intriguing discussions and speculations about the picks. The waiting is finally over and we are proud to present eight amazing fights. The inaugural season of the World Boxing Super Series will feature nine undefeated fighters, seven belts, five world champions and three former champions. To see all those stars on one stage was incredible and it will be even more exciting to see all of them in the ring in September and October. There will not be a dull moment in the Muhammad Ali Trophy.”
Said Richard Schaefer, Comosa’s Chairman of the Americas. “I was fortunate to be promoting many fights of Floyd Mayweather, Oscar de la Hoya and so many others but I have to tell you this beats them all. I really believe this has an opportunity to become the brand in the sport of boxing, the kind of tournament fighters really want to participate in because it will elevate their exposure and it will elevate their careers.”
The quarter-finals will be held in September and October, the semi-finals in January and February and the finals in May in top venues around the globe.
Gassiev vs. Wlodarczyk:
I want to say thank you for everyone who made this tournament. I’m very happy to be here. I’m fighting Krzysztof because he is my number one contender. He is a tough opponent and I’m sure we give boxing fans a great fight.
I’m very happy because Gassiev is a good fighter and a tough guy. We will give people a good fight.
Usyk v Huck
I picked him for my fans.
This is my wish opponent. People say he is really good – an Olympic and World Champion – but we will see when he gets in the ring with me.
Breidis v Perez
He is a great fighter from Cuba. He comes from heavyweight division and will give me a tough fight.
It’s a great challenge. He’s a champion so I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be my first belt. I’m looking forward to the fight.
Dorticos v Kudryashov
It’s going to be a great fight and something really interesting for the fans.
I’m happy with this opponent. It will be a good fight.