"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."
~Mike Tyson

Monday, February 12, 2018

The World Boxing Super Series Tournaments: The Best Of Boxing

Ask Usyk how he feels...go on.
Yours truly likens being a boxing fan to being in a relationship with a physiologically abusive person. No matter how much the sport we adore hurts us, lies to us, let's us down, completely drops the ball, falls short of expectations, or tells us it's going to work towards being better, our love and obsession obfuscates the parts of our brain that manage logic, rationality, and sometimes critical thought. Boxing is the only sport that gets away with not only producing garbage but also manages to convince its stalwarts that the turds it drops and wraps up in elegant bows are something more than excrement. Much like the WWE, boxing is 90% filler with the majority of its fights featuring “jobbers” whose are tasked with making superior talent look good, fights that function as commercials for an upcoming pay per view, or are often meaningless fights between marginally talented pugilists that lead nowhere.

With the sport's modus operandi being what it is, this scribe and many a fan were taken aback when the World Boxing Super Series was announced back in latter half of 2017. Sure, there was a healthy dose of skepticism coming from both outspoken fans as well as the sport's media but given some of the individuals whom were involved in putting the series' two tournaments together who could blame them? Once the tournaments were finalized and its participants announced however trepidation and consternation quickly gave way to both surprise and excitement. As the tournaments have progressed boxing fans have been treated to things they can only dream of receiving on a constant basis. Not only has the World Boxing Super Series consistently produced high quality fights between many of the sport's top fighters but fans have seen just how smoothly and efficient boxing can be run when the powers that be really want something to happen and the bullshit is checked at the door.

Make no mistake about it, the World Boxing Super Series Cruiserweight tournament features the superior talent and the more exciting match ups but the Super Middleweight tournament has yet to disappoint and has held it's own despite some of the bigger names at 168 lbs either passing on the opportunity to participate or having been overlooked by WBSS brass. More to the point, there are a number of things that makes the World Boxing Super Series tournaments so engrossing, entertaining, appealing, and superior to everything else currently taking place in the sport:

  • Impartial judging
  • Solid officiating
  • Well structured and easy to follow rules
  • High production values
  • Phenomenal shoulder productions
  • Outstanding sportsmanship
  • Modern dissemination of its content
  • Back to back tough, risky, and dangerous fights
  • No PR teams masquerading as commentating crews
  • Superb and unbiased commentating
  • Storylines to follow
  • Regularly scheduled fights
  • No long fighter layoffs
  • No diva behavior
  • Unified and Undisputed Champions Of The World

Where's The Criticism?

While there are certainly criticisms this writer and others could levy at the World Boxing Super Series, this article is focusing on what works rather than what needs work. Furthermore I'd challenge anyone who finds this series disappointing to shine the proverbial spotlight on any other boxing production that has consistently delivered the goods the way these two tournaments have. Sure, there was Showtime's “Super Six World Boxing Classic” that came out of the gate strong in 2009 but that egregiously troubled production was built not as a sincere contest but rather a carefully crafted showcase for Oakland's Andre Ward. Making matters worse, after a great number of problems and disappointments that tournament ended up hobbling across the finish line in 2011 without any of the pomp, hype, or excitement a boxing tournament should command. Co-host of The Loaded Gloves boxing podcast Victor Atkinson said it best in both the many on and off air conversations we've had regarding this fight series. “These tournaments are the best thing happening in boxing right now.” This writer couldn't agree more with his co-host's sentiments and would go so far as to say that they are the best thing to happen to boxing in decades.

The Future

Well before the semi-finals of the two tournaments got underway fans began clamoring for additional WBSS tournaments and really, who could blame them? Tournaments of these types can breathe life into even the most stale of weight classes and there are currently a number of weight classes whose current make up or state practically demand a tournament land there. These include Light Heavyweight, Welterweight, Middleweight, and Heavyweight though any weight class that hosts one of these tournaments is going to shine.

Usyk vs Gassiev, May 11 2018
Photo: worldboxingsuperseries.com
Despite any success the World Boxing Super Series has had thus far, fans should expect some disappointment and hurdles in the creation of new tournaments if and when they happen. The political side of boxing is sure to rear its ugly head as Sauerland Promotions, and assuming he's involved in future endeavors, Richard Schaefer reach out to American fighters and rival promotional outfits. Although tournaments can boost a fighter's profile, give their careers a shot in the arm, or even cement their legacy, many of the marquee fighters of the modern era are likely to pass on any invitations they might receive. In this, the age of the prospect champion, fighters with high profiles but mediocre and/or underdeveloped skill sets aren't necessarily going to be chomping at the bit to test themselves or make a statement. Instead they'll remain content in hiding behind their promoters and/or networks while they continue to make a career out of taking the path of least resistance and fight in televised sparring sessions. Case and point? There are 26 and 28 year old fighters claiming they aren't ready for a step up in competition while a then largely untested 23 year old Russian named Murat Gassiev entered a tournament and became the unified IBF and WBA Cruiserweight champion by beating the best in his division. He faces Oleksandr Usyk in the Cruiserweight final on May 11th by the way.

There are also those fighters who are wrapped up in high profile fights of their own and are likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. It would be foolish to expect such fighters to participate in a tournament though without them included such tournaments do lose a bit of their bite and gravitas. Indeed there are a great number of obstacles to contend with in making these tournaments but these current tourneys prove it can be done. Speaking recently with Michael Montero of Montero On Boxing, this writer learned that there are currently no plans for additional World Boxing Super Series tournaments in 2018 but that there may well be plans in the works for 2019 and 2020 launches. For now all one can do is enjoy what's left of these two tournaments while they wait to learn more about the future of the World Boxing Super Series. To quote trainer Abel Sanchez "This is what boxing should be." Well said sir.

Scott Jarvis is an independent boxing writer for and the owner of Split D Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook, or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com. You can also support Split D Boxing on Patreon!