There's no question that the cruiserweight portion of World Boxing Super Series' inaugural tournament delivered on every front.
So much that the event organizers are hoping for lightning to strike twice.
With two weight classes already announced and full quarterfinals matchups set, Comosa AG has opted to return to the 200-pound division in confirming its third tournament for Season Two of the World Boxing Super Series.
News of the cruiserweight division joining the already established Super Lightweight (140 pounds) and Bantamweight (118 pounds) brackets was announced through the Comosa AG press office on Tuesday.
“Season I paved the way for Aleksandr Usyk to write history and take home the first-ever Muhammad Ali Trophy,” said Comosa’s Chief Boxing Officer, Kalle Sauerland. “The cruiserweight edition of the Ali Trophy gave the world spectacular match-ups in the quarter-finals, fight of the year contenders in the semi-finals and we witnessed Usyk as a pound-for-pound best with his amazing performance in the final. We are really looking forward to continuing the success of this exciting weight class in Season II.”
Usyk not only ran the tables in Season One, but did so the hard way in becoming World cruiserweight king and a high entrant on most respectable pound-for-pound lists. The two-time Olympian and 2012 Olympic Gold medalist from Ukraine won all three of his tournament fights in his opponent's home country, dominating Marco Huck in Germany and edging Mairis Briedis in Latvia before storming into Russia to deliver a masterclass boxing lesson to Murat Gassiev in the WBSS Cruiserweight finals.
The latter win crowned Usyk (15-0, 11KOs) undisputed and lineal heavyweight king, having collected all four major titles in a journey that began with yet another road win when he outpointed Krzysztof Glowacki in their Sept. '16 title fight in Poland.
With such glory, however, leaves behind a major void in terms of what can truly be at stake for even the best of the rest. With no announced plans from Usyk to relinquish his titles any time soon and already being groomed for a fall showdown with former titlist Tony Bellew, there is little beyond the tournament's Ali Trophy to bestow upon the eventual Season Two winner.
Still, the offered payouts and general tournament interest should be enough for the WBSS team to once again lure the right type of talent to keep fans engaged.
“People can expect a very strong line-up,” promised Sauerland, teasing the possibility of returning figures from the previous bracket. “There will be some remarkable names from Season I, the highest ranked challengers and as always in the World Boxing Super Series a huge geographic spread."
Participants and matchups are expected to be announced in the coming days.
The other Season Two brackets offer intrigue for varying reasons. The bantamweight division can easily go the way of the Season One Cruiserweight portion. Most of the best 118-pound boxers in the world are featured, including all of the division's current major titlists (the WBC belt remains vacant and its ordered title matchup between Nordine Ouballi and Petch Sor Chitpattana in limbo). Should the tournament run as planned, the end game will fill the lineal void left behind by disgraced former champ Luis Nery, who in his past two fights with Shinsuke Yamanaka tested positive for a banned substance and then massively missed weight.
Tabbed to fill the void will be the last man standing among the current eight-man lot, with quarterfinals matches already set:
Ryan Burnett (19-0, 9 KOs) vs. Nonito Donaire (38-5, 24 KOs)
Naoya Inoue (16-0, 14 KOs) vs. Juan Carlos Payano (20-1, 9 KOs)
Zolani Tete (27-3, 21 KOs) vs. Mikhail Aloyan (4-0, 0 KOs)
Emmanuel Rodriguez (18-0, 12 KOs) vs. Jason Moloney (17-0, 14 KOs)
The super lightweight division is not all that dissimilar to the Season One Super Middleweight bracket, whose delayed finals matchup between George Groves and Callum Smith still awaits in September.
While the eight-man field at 140 is respectable, it will rely heavily upon the full slate of bouts to play out before the eventual king gains any true notoriety among the boxing world. Whereas the Cruiserweight semifinals already featured four unbeaten titlists in a pair of unification clashes, the second round of clashes between the 140-pound quarterfinals winners won't necessarily represent the division's best four boxers.
In fact, it can be argued that the winners of the September showdown between Jose Ramirez and Antonio Orozco and the November title tilt between Maurice Hooker and Alex Saucedo serve as a major obstacle in the way of the eventual WBSS winner claiming divisional immortality.
Still, the enlisted participants have enough to worry about with what's directly in front of them, as evidenced by these slated quarterfinals bouts:
Regis Prograis (22-0, 19 KOs) vs. Terry Flanagan (33-1, 13 KOs)
Josh Taylor (13-0, 11 KOs) vs. Ryan Martin (22-0, 12 KOs)
Kiryl Relikh (22-2, 19 KOs) vs. Eduard Troyanovsky (27-1, 24 KOs)
Ivan Baranchyk (18-0, 11 KOs) vs. Anthony Yigit (21-0-1, 7 KOs)
"We now have all three weight classes in place and we cannot wait to share the Ali Trophy action with the whole world," declares Sauerland.