The draft gala to announce the draw for the quarter-finals of the inaugural World Boxing Super Series has been held in Monte Carlo.
Sixteen fighters, eight super-middleweights and eight cruiserweights, will take part in the big-money tournament.
The quarter-finals in each weight class are set to take place in September/October with the semi-finals being held early in 2018. The final of each will be held next May, with the winner receiving a trophy and being recognised as number one in their weight class.
The draft gala started with Chris Eubank Snr making a grand entrance and insisting his son, Chris Eubank Jnr will qualify for the tournament next week and go on to win.
In the draft itself, WBA champion George Groves was number one seed in the super-middleweight category and received first pick of opponent. He chose 2006 Commonwealth games light-welterweight gold medallist Jamie Cox.
Cox is unbeaten as a professional, but Groves gave reasons for his choice in an interview with iFL TV by saying:
“I went with my gut.
“It’s not an easy fight, but I don’t think there is an easy fight. But, I think he’s the easiest fight.”
Second seed in the same category is WBC silver champion Callum Smith, who turned down a WBC world title fight with Anthony Dirrell to take part in this tournament. He will fight unbeaten Swede Erik Skoglund, who’s stepping down from light-heavyweight.
Smith admitted it was a “hard decision” to take part in this tournament, but explained his reasons to Sky Sports. The unbeaten Brit said:
“I think I finally got to a point where I was constantly talking about fights, but none of them were actually happening.
“It just reached a point where I had enough and I needed to secure a fight date. I’ve been given one off the tournament and I know 100 per cent it will happen.
“I spoke with my family, my brothers and they all agreed to go with the tournament and if I win that I come out as a world champion and my profile is a lot bigger and then the WBC, IBF, WBO – them titles will be all there to fight for.
“I’ve chosen this route because I’m confident I’m the best fighter in it and I can win it overall.”
Eubank Jr has not yet qualified and will fight former two-weight world champion Arthur Abraham next Saturday. The winner earns a place and faces the daunting prospect of fighting unbeaten Avni Yildirim. The Turkish professional has won ten of his 16 fights by stoppage and is WBC mandatory challenger.
The final fight in the super-middleweight category is between Jurgen Braehmer and Rob Brant. Braehmer is the fourth seed and a former two-time light-heavyweight world champion, while Brant is unbeaten in 22 fights but steps up from middleweight.
In the cruiserweight division, number one seed and WBO title holder Oleksandr Usyk will face former champion Marco Huck in what promises to be a fantastic showdown.
Unbeaten Usyk, the 2012 Olympic gold medal winner has won ten of his twelve professional fights by stoppage. Huck is the second longest reigning cruiserweight champ in history, having held the WBO title for six years between 2009 and 2015.
Next up, unbeaten WBC champion Mairis Briedis will take on Irish-based Cuban Mike Perez, who has two losses from 25 pro fights.
WBA champ Yunier Dorticos will fight WBC silver title holder Dmitry Kudryashov. The final fight is between unbeaten IBF champ Murat Gassiev and mandatory challenger Krzysztof Wlodarczyk.
This tournament will pit the best against the best, and the WBC have officially announced the winner in each weight class will receive their diamond championship. WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman said:
“There will be no easy fight and whoever wins will clearly be recognised as one of the most extraordinary and elite boxer in the sport. Hence, we are proud to put the WBC Diamond Championship on the line, which marks the biggest honour the WBC can grant.”
Peter Reynolds, Pundit Arena
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