The latest entries aren't exactly blockbuster news, but go a long way in completing the cruiserweight and super middleweight brackets for the World Boxing Super Series.
Former heavyweight contender Mike Perez (22-2-1, 14 KOs) completes a loaded cruiserweight bracket—so much that he will likely be regarded as among the lower seeds heading into Saturday's live draft. On the super middleweight side comes two more unbeaten participants, as rising contenders Avni Yildirim (16-0, 10 KOs) and Rob Brant (22-0, 15 KOs) were confirmed arrivals on Thursday afternoon.
“In the USA they call me the Dentist because what I do in sparring and in fights is rearranging teeth,” boasted a confident Yildrim, a 25-year old contender from Turkey. “My message to everybody else in the tournament: You should all hope that you don't have to fight me in the first round because I will definitely win and go on to the semi-final, final and to the victory. There is no stopping me.
"I want to make my country and my people proud and I will win the World Boxing Super Series for Turkey.“
Like Perez, Yildirim now competes at a lower weight class than from where he began his pro career. After having spent his first 10 fights at light heavyweight, the brash turk decided to drop down in weight beginning with a win over Zoltan Sera last May. The move proved wise, as he's steadily improved in skill and competition level, most recently outpointing veteran fringe contender Marco Antonio Periban this past May in Mexico.
Perez enjoyed a successful pro debut at cruiserweight, although in a bout so brief it's tough to gauge whether he's a better fit in the division than during his heavyweight campaign. The Cuban southpaw—now based out of Ireland—connected with a right hook to put previously unbeaten Viktor Biscak down and out just 0:29 into their June clash.
It was a refreshing change of pace for 31-year old, who was last seen getting annihilated in 91 seconds by Alexander Povetkin in their May '15 title elimination contest. The setback marked his second loss in a span of three fights, but feels like an entirely new boxer after dropping 40 lbs. of ring weight.
"I am very happy to be part of the World Boxing Super Series,” said Perez. “It´s a very exciting tournament and the perfect opportunity for me to prove that I can be the best cruiserweight in the world.”
He has a massive uphill climb ahead. In joining the eight-man tournament, he is now lumped along with a quartet of unbeaten titlists—tournament favorite Oleksandr Usyk, Mairis Briedis, Murat Gassiev and Yunier Dorticos—along with former champs Marco Huck and Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, and power-punching Russian contender Dmitry Kudryashov.
The super middleweight division appears to be a bit more wide open. British talents George Groves and unbeaten Callum Smith are considered the bracket favorites, while former light heavyweight titlist Juergen Braehmer boasts the most pro experience. Among the rest of the field are a sea of hungry, unbeaten contenders in Yildirim, Erik Skoglund, Jamie Cox and the lone U.S.-born entrant in Brant.
"I will be proud to represent America in the World Boxing Super Series,“ said Brant, who is based out of Minnesota. “I am young, I am undefeated, I am hungry and I am ready for the world stage. This is my time! I did not just enter this tournament, I am going to win the Muhammad Ali Trophy!"
The final open slot is expected to be revealed on Friday. Comosa chief boxing officer Kalle Sauerland insists it will be a big one—although if rumors hold true, the true identity won't be known until after July 15, as it is believed it will go to the winner of the forthcoming clash between Arthur Abraham and Chris Eubank Jr.
Opening round matchups will be determined during the live Draft Gala, which will take place on Saturday (23:00 local, 5 PM ET) in Monaco. The live TV show will be broadcasted in multiple territories and also be streamed live on www.WorldBoxingSuperSeries.com. The top four seeds, which will be set by the Comosa Board once the line-up has been completed, will select their opponents from the unseeded boxers.
The first wave of bouts for the single-elimination tournament are due to begin in September, with hopes of the finals taking place by May '18