World Boxing Super Series First Round

The World Boxing Super Series has unveiled its first round matches for their upcoming cruiserweight and super middleweight champion. In its opening gala in Monaco, the organization unveiled the seedings and the tournament brackets for the event. The first round fights are expected to take place sometime in the fall.

Here are the super middleweight matchups. Seedings are in parenthesis:

  • (1) George Groves (WBA "super" super middleweight champion) vs. Jamie Cox
  • (2) Callum Smith vs. Erik Skoglund
  • (3) Chris Eubank Jr./Arthur Abraham winner (IBO super middleweight champion) vs. Avni Yildirim
  • (4) Juergen Braehmer vs. Rob Brant

And here are the cruiserweight matchups:

  • (1) Oleksandr Usyk (WBO cruiserweight champion) vs. Marco Huck
  • (2) Murat Gassiev (IBF cruiserweight champion) vs. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk
  • (3) Mairis Briedis (WBC cruiserweight champion) vs. Mike Perez
  • (4) Yunier Dorticos (WBA "regular" cruiserweight champion) vs. Dmitry Kudrayshov

Among the 16 fighters competing, six of them are current world title holders while Smith and Skoglund will compete for the symbolic WBC diamond belt. Eubank Jr. vs. Abraham will take place on July 15 with the winner facing Yildirim.

One thing that the fighters have really emphasized is the importance of winning the Muhammad Ali trophy and how good the tournament format is. Some of the fighters have called the World Boxing Super Series the "Champions League of Boxing." For those that don't follow soccer, the Champions League is a European club soccer tournament generally considered the best club soccer tournament in the world, and arguably the most popular yearly soccer tournament in the world, second-most popular overall soccer tournament behind the FIFA World Cup.

It's a breath of fresh air seeing something so unique and special being created to help the sport of boxing. If all works out, this could make the super middleweight and cruiserweight divisions, which are constantly being overlooked in the west, very attractive divisions for casual boxing fans.

Looking at the bracket, there's no surprise that Groves and Usyk were the No. 1 seeds in their respective tournaments. One thing to watch out for is in the super middleweight division. With Eubank vs. Abraham taking place this weekend, the winner will fight in the first round of the Super Series, leaving only less than three months for the winner to recover before facing Yildirim. Let's say the Eubank vs. Abraham winner makes it to the finals, you're looking at four fights within 10 months.

Usyk, the favorite in the cruiserweight tournament, is facing Huck in the first round. Huck is a very experienced fighter who recently fought for the vacant WBC title back in April. It's not a foregone conclusion that Usyk will beat Huck, despite being favored. In terms of the best fight in the first round, Groves vs. Cox is a very attractive fight. Groves recently won his first world title and Cox has been on the precipice of doing so himself. Cox won the WBA international super middleweight title earlier this year and is ready to have a very competitive fight against Groves.

The quarterfinals are expected to take place between September and October, the semifinals are expected to take place in early 2018 and the finals to be held in May 2018. The winner of each will take home the Muhammad Ali Trophy. All 16 fighters will divvy up $50 million for the prize money, about $3.125 million from each fighter. A deal to broadcast the tournament in the United States has yet to be made.

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