Fightful Boxing Newsletter (8/30): Jose Pedraza, Curtis Harper Situation, Wilder vs. Fury, WBSS

Details on WBSS Cruiserweight 2: Electric Boogaloo:

Though it came with no fanfare compared to previous tournaments, the World Boxing Super Series announced the full roster, seeding and quarterfinal matches for its second cruiserweight tournament.

The WBSS announced on Twitter all eight participants for the sequel to the first cruiserweight tournament, which saw Oleksandr Usyk defeat Murat Gassiev to become the undisputed WBA, WBO, WBC, IBF and Ring Magazine cruiserweight champion.

Here are the first round matches, which features a mix between returning fighters and new faces, for the WBSS: Cruiserweights 2 tournament:

No. 1 Seed Mairis Briedis vs. Noel Mikaelian

No. 2 Seed Yunier Dorticos vs. Mateusz Masternak

No. 3 Seed Krzysztof Glowacki vs. Maksim Vlasov

No. 4 Seed Ruslan Fayfer vs. Andrew Tabiti

Of the eight fighters in this tournament, only Briedis, Dorticos and Glowacki are the ones who fought in the first WBSS cruiserweight tournament. Briedis and Dorticos reached the semifinals as world champions but they were dethroned by Usyk and Murat Gassiev, respectively.

As far as the new faces are concerned, probably the two most notable names are Tabiti and Masternak. For boxing fans in the U.S., Tabiti’s name is familiar because he opened the August 2017 pay-per-view card headlined by Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor where Tabiti defeated former cruiserweight title challenger Steve Cunningham.

Masternak, a former IBO and European champion, has been on a five-fight win streak since a 2015 loss to former WBC cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew. Masternak quickly gained momentum and turned himself into a borderline top 10 cruiserweight once more. But he is paired with Yunier Dorticos, who is one of the strongest fighters in the division, but since Dorticos’ loss to Gassiev in the semifinals, we’ve yet to see the former WBA cruiserweight champion in action. If there is a time to face Dorticos, it would be now, which means Masternak is in prime position to pull of the upset and cement himself as a dark horse to win the tournament.

There are no world champions on this edition of the WBSS cruiserweight tournament as Usyk still holds all five major world titles. Usyk is currently negotiating a fight against Bellew for later this year, but beyond that, Usyk's plans as the undisputed champion are unknown. If Usyk moves up in weight after the fight against Bellew, should Usyk be victorious, all the titles would be vacated. If that is the case, then it is possible the cruiserweight semifinals or finals could be for at least one of the vacant titles.

Looking at the timing of it all, I would say that if Usyk defeats Bellew and immediately jumps up to heavyweight and vacates all five of his titles, I can see at least two of the alphabet belts being put in the two semifinal matches with the Ring Magazine possibly being at stake in the finals.

But of course this is a bit of a gamble as there is no telling when exactly does Usyk vacate the belts. Usyk’s goal is to fight Anthony Joshua, the current unified heavyweight champion and as Usyk is the WBO “super” champion at 200 pounds, he is eligible to move up in weight by vacating his title and then proceed to become Joshua’s mandatory challenger. There’s one problem: the WBO had already announced that Joshua’s fight against Alexander Povetkin on September 22 is a mandatory defense, meaning that Joshua doesn’t have to fight a mandatory challenger for another 18 months, putting Usyk as the mandatory challenger starting in March 2020 at the earliest. This may prompt Usyk to stay at cruiserweight, keep the titles and possibly face the winner of the WBSS tournament, which could very well end up being Briedis.

The cruiserweights join the bantamweight and junior welterweight tournaments as the second season of the WBSS. No dates for the first-round cruiserweight tournaments have been announced yet.

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