Saudi Arabia to host WBSS cruiserweight final

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The finalists in the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament are not yet known because the quarterfinals are not yet complete. But where that final will take place is.

World Boxing Super Series organizers announced on Tuesday that the May final of the eight-man tournament, which includes four of the major world titleholders, will take place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The announcement followed an agreement being signed in London between World Boxing Super Series organizer and owner Comosa AG and the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia. The specific date and venue is to be announced but the winner of the Muhammad Ali Trophy will be crowned there.

“This is fantastic news, not just for World Boxing Super Series but for boxing and for the sport in Saudi Arabia,” said Comosa AG CEO Roberto Dalmiglio. “We have seen huge and growing interest in the World Boxing Super Series from fight fans, broadcasters, commercial partners and venue owners from the major boxing markets around the world. The competition to host the cruiserweight final has been fierce, and we are delighted to be able to announce the winner.

“I am sure that Saudi Arabia will lay on a fitting finale to the first year of the WBSS and first award of the Muhammad Ali Trophy. We are proud to be working with the Saudi General Sports Authority on what will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of the 2018 sporting calendar in Jeddah.”

The commitment to hosting the final of the tournament is part of an effort to raise the overall profile of boxing in Saudi Arabia, according to Turki Al-Alsheikh, president of the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority.

“This agreement is part of our broader commitment and work to develop the sport of boxing in Saudi Arabia,” he said. “Having the first final of such a high-profile and groundbreaking tournament take place in Saudi Arabia is a key milestone for us, and will be one of many major sports events to take place in the Kingdom next year. The interest in boxing among the young generation is there and growing rapidly, which is why the GSA is also working to form a grass-roots partnership with one of the largest international boxing federations to promote the sport. Our involvement in the Muhammad Ali Trophy is the perfect way to step up our engagement in boxing, given how popular and well respected this great sporting athlete has always been.”

The semifinals are due to take place in the second half of January at locations to be determined. World titleholders Oleksandr Usyk (13-0, 11 KOs), 30, of Ukraine, and Mairis Briedis (23-0, 18 KOs), 32, of Latvia, are due to meet in a title unification bout in one semifinal.

The other semifinal will match titleholder “The KO Doctor” Yunier Dorticos (22-0, 210 KOs), 31, a Cuban defector based in Miami, against the winner of the fight between titleholder Murat Gassiev (24-0, 17 KOs), 24, of Russia, and former titlist Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (53-3-1, 37 KOs), 36, of Poland, who meet in the last quarterfinal bout on Saturday at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

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