After constant issues during negotiations, Callum Smith decided to miss out on the opportunity to fight for the vacant WBC super middleweight and instead compete in the World Boxing Super Series.
In a news release, Smith said he would be taking part in the tournament's super middleweight draw and not fight Anthony Dirrell. It was also revealed that a special title from the WBC, the WBC diamond championship will be on the line in the quarterfinal.
There was an attempt made to have Dirrell added to the tournament as well and to have their bout as one of the quarterfinal matches, but Dirrell declined to join the field, according to the World Boxing Super Series. So that leaves Smith to instead fight for the WBC's symbolic diamond belt in the tournament rather than an actual world title.
"I am thrilled to participate in the World Boxing Super Series, the Champions League of boxing," Smith said. "What an honor it will be to fight for the WBC diamond championship in the quarterfinal. But there is so much more at stake than just one belt -- the Muhammad Ali Trophy as well as a potential domestic showdown with George Groves in the final. This tournament is very exciting for boxing, and I am thrilled to be a part of it. I look forward to travelling to Monaco for the draft gala on Saturday and find out who my opponent will be."
Joining Smith in the 168-pound tournament are WBA champion George Groves, Jamie Cox, Erik Skoglund and Juergen Braehmer, a former light heavyweight champion who has been recovering from injuries sustained from a fight against Nathan Cleverly last year. Braehmer also recently announced he would compete in the tournament, even though he hasn't competed in about a decade.
One of the other spots for the super middleweight tournament is reserved for the winner of the Chris Eubank Jr. vs. Arthur Abraham fight for the IBO title on July 15.
The World Boxing Super Series also has a cruiserweight tournament. Most of the field for that tournament has been announced for weeks now, but the tournament has officially unveiled the entire eight-man tournament. Below is the entire tournament roster.
- Oleksandr Usyk (WBO cruiserweight champion)
- Yunier Dorticos (WBA "regular" cruiserweight champion)
- Murat Gassiev (IBF cruiserweight champion)
- Mairis Briedis (WBC cruiserweight champion)
- Krzysztof Wlodarczyk
- Marco Huck
- Dmitry Kudryashov
- Mike Perez
- George Groves (WBA "super" super middleweight champion)
- Juergen Braehmer
- Erik Skoglund
- Jamie Cox
- Chris Eubank Jr./Arthur Abraham winner (IBO super middleweight champion)
The draw for each tournament is supposed to take place on a date to be determined on July 8 in Monte Carlo, Monaco. In each weight class, the four top seeds will select their quarterfinal opponent from the four unseeded boxers on a live TV show. The tournaments are supposed to start in September with the quarterfinals. 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.
We have more on the tournament in the Fightful Boxing Newsletter.