The final slot in the eight-man single elimination World Boxing Super Series super middleweight tournament will go to… well, it depends.
It depends on who wins the previously scheduled bout between England’s Chris Eubank Jr. and former super middleweight and middleweight world titleholder Arthur Abraham. They will meet in a 12-round fight on July 15 (Integrated Sports pay-per-view, 2:30 p.m. ET) at Wembley Arena in London. The winner will enter the tournament, organizers announced Friday.
“Eubank versus Abraham is a big fight that just got bigger,” said Kalle Sauerland, Abraham’s longtime promoter, who is also one of the promoters putting on the World Boxing Super Series. “With the winner going into the tournament, the stakes could not be any higher.”
Eubank (24-1, 19 KOs), 27, of England, is the son of the former middleweight and super middleweight world titleholder Chris Eubank Sr. His fight with Abraham will be his second since moving up in weight from middleweight.
“I look forward to testing myself against the best fighters out there,” Eubank said. “The Muhammad Ali Trophy (that goes to the tournament winner) is a great idea and I am thrilled to participate. It would be great to fight George Groves and to take his title away from him but let’s see what the draw in Monaco brings. I am taking one step at a time and right now all my focus is on the fight with Arthur Abraham. With just one win between me and the World Boxing Super Series, I am extremely motivated.”
Abraham (46-5, 30 KOs), 37, of Germany, has won two fights in a row since losing his 168-pound world title to Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez by shutout decision in April 2016. A win over Eubank will put him back into a high-profile super middleweight tournament.
Abraham also participated in the Super Six World Boxing Classic, a modified round-robin tournament that brought together six of the best 168-pounders for a 2009 to 2011 tournament. Abraham, a pretournament favorite, fizzled in the Super Six. He won his opening bout by huge 12th-round knockout of former undisputed middleweight champion Jermain Taylor but then lost two in a row, by 11th-round disqualification to Andre Dirrell and lopsided unanimous decision for a vacant world title to Carl Froch, and was eliminated.
Abraham is hoping for a better showing in this tournament but first he has to deal with the favored Eubank.
“All my focus is on the difficult and spectacular fight next week at Wembley,” Abraham said. “I have to and I will defeat Eubank in a big fight. Then things will take off with the World Boxing Super Series, which really is amazing. There are so many great fights in such a short period of time. The boxing fans will really love it. I have been dreaming of having a tournament with the world’s best boxers. I will become the world’s best super middleweight. This really is the Champions League of Boxing and I am really looking forward to it.”
In March, Comosa AG announced plans for two eight-man single-elimination tournaments in which 16 fighters will divvy up the $50 million prize money, with the winner of each tournament also receiving the Muhammad Ali Trophy. Comosa AG enlisted promoters Richard Schaefer and Kalle Sauerland to promote the cards and decided that the first two tournaments will take place in the cruiserweight and super middleweight divisions.
The tournaments are supposed to kick off in September with quarterfinal matches in each weight class, with the semifinals taking place in early 2018 and the finals scheduled for May 2018. The draw for each tournament will take place on Saturday in Monte Carlo with the top four seeds (which are to be determined) in each field selecting their quarterfinal opponent from the remaining unseeded fighters. The draft will stream live on WorldBoxingSuperSeries.com beginning at 5 p.m. ET. Eubank Sr. will represent his son and Abraham at the draft since they are in training.
The rest of the super middleweight field includes three Brits — world titleholder Groves (26-3, 19 KOs), Callum Smith (22-0, 17 KOs) and Jamie Cox (23-0, 13 KOs) — along with former world titleholder Juergen Braehmer (48-3, 35 KOs), of Germany, Sweden’s Erik Skoglund (26-0, 12 KOs), Turkey’s Avni Yildirim (16-0, 10 KOs) and Rob Brant (22-0, 15 KOs), of St. Paul, Minnesota.
The cruiserweight tournament is loaded, featuring most of the top 10 fighters in the 200-pound weight class, including four of the world titleholders: Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk (12-0, 10 KOs), Russia’s Murat Gassiev (24-0, 17 KOs), Latvia’s Mairis Briedis (22-0, 18 KOs) and Cuban defector Yunier Dorticos (21-0, 20 KOs). Also in the field are highly regarded former world titleholders in Poland’s Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (53-3-1, 37 KOs), Germany’s Marco Huck (40-4-1, 27 KOs), the “Russian Hammer” Dmitry Kudryashov (21-1, 21 KOs) and Ireland-based Cuban defector Mike Perez (22-2-1, 14 KOs).
Two alternates were also named, former cruiserweight world titleholder Krzysztof Glowacki (27-1, 17 KOs), of Poland, and Vincent Feigenbutz (26-2, 23 KOs), of Germany, a former interim super middleweight titlist. They will both be on stand by in the event of an injury or withdrawal.
“The World Boxing Super Series will follow a strict schedule,” said Comosa AG executive Roberto Dalmiglio. “We will not accept any postponements or delays. If a fighter is unavailable to box on the proposed date, he will be replaced by a world-class reserve who has been in full training. In a physical sport like boxing, there is always the chance of an injury, so we need to be prepared. We are glad to announce the first two reserves, who are both exciting fighters.”