World Boxing Super Series final headaches, overlapping seasons and the Chris Eubank Jr. factor

Phil Jay 12/05/2018

A week where the World Boxing Super Series announced big plans for expansion was coupled with the possibility of a wildcard entry into the super-middleweight final for last four participant Chris Eubank Jr.

As Sauerland paraded two current bantamweight world champions at a press gathering to confirm the 118 pound division would be one of three new tournaments, questions were still being asked as to when the two competitions running concurrently would be completed.

Champions from showpieces featuring George Groves v Callum Smith and Aleksandr Usyk v Murat Gassiev were due to be crowned by the time Season 2 was revealed, although injuries and venue rows have made it impossible for promoters Team Sauerland to reach the original deadline.

Groves underwent shoulder surgery after beating Eubank in the semi-final and has just days to prove his fitness, whilst Jeddah has since been scrapped as the hosts of the four-belt cruiserweight finale.

Russian authorities had offered to stage the 200 pound fight on May 11 in a bid to keep the tight schedule, although this was rejected by Usyk and his team leaving the Sauerland brothers and organisers at Comosa AG with a further headache.

So what now?

It looks as though the WBSS will be aiming to stage both finals either on the same night at the same venue or within a week of each other, with Groves the telling factor as to when the tournaments can reach a climax.

Should Groves be unable to provide solid grounds for participation in the Smith bout by the end of June, it seems increasingly likely that Eubank Jr. will be drafted in – which has dismayed some UK fans.

Many believe the nature of Eubank’s performance against Groves, which was wild and amateurish at times, doesn’t warrant a second chance at lifting the Muhammad Ali Trophy.

Granted some of what is being bandied around social media comes with foundation, but in the cold light of day there aren’t too many options open to the WBSS as they attempt to wrap up Season 1.

Nieky Holzken can in no way be considered for a rematch with Smith after his loss when stepping in at late notice and it’s never been common place to draft in anymore new to a competition without being part of the original line-up.

So would the WBSS then go back to the Quarter-Finalists to find a new foe for Smith…And if so who would that be?

Jamie Cox and Avni Yildirim were knocked out by Groves and Eubank respectively, whilst Smith defeated Erik Skoglund before the Swede suffered life-threatening injuries in training.

Juergen Braehmer would be the obvious choice as he was originally due to battle Smith in the semi-final, but there are now rumors the German will be part of a light-heavyweight version to be revealed in the near future.

All in all, Eubank would be the soundest and safest choice for a match-up against Smith that would give the ex-IBO ruler the opportunity for redemption of his uncharacteristically bad loss to Groves.

Whoever gets the nod, Season 2 provisions surely need to be in place for such incidents happening with the final beckoning as the Season 1 substitutes training for each leg of the 2017/18 tournament are seemingly being overlooked.

John Ryder, Dmitrii Chudinov, Zach Parker and Vincent Feigenbutz all scored victories on WBSS events in a reserve capacity, although none appear to be in the running to battle Smith in the current climate.

The bottom line is Eubank’s profile fits the bill and gives the WBSS an opportunity to round off the 168 event with an all-UK grudge match – as was ultimately the case with a world title clash against Groves.

All will be revealed in the coming days.

Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay