World Boxing Super Series to launch $50 million boxing tournament
Richard Schaefer and Kalle Sauerland are taking on a tough venture in the world of boxing
Boxing tournaments have come and gone throughout the years to varying degrees of prominence and success. But if promoters Richard Schaefer and Kalle Sauerland, who have joined forces with a group titled Comosa AG, have their way, the World Boxing Super Series has the potential to be far different.
The two prominent promoters -- Schaefer, the former Golden Boy CEO who recently founded Ringstar Sports, and Sauerland, of Germany’s Sauerland Promotion -- announced the venture on Thursday during a kickoff news conference in New York.
While many of the details regarding the series of tournaments still remain up in the air, including the weight classes and the identity or levels of fighters involved, the prize money alone could go a long way in drawing big names to this event, scheduled to start in September.
Backed by a number of organizations including Team Sauerland, the Swedish digital entertainment Modern Times Group and the Switzerland-based Highlight Event and Entertainment, Comosa AG is offering a total of $50 million in combined prizes for the first year. Schaefer estimated the winner of each single-elimination, eight-fighter bracket could pocket $10 million.
“I was skeptical at first but went into the meeting with an open mind,” Schaefer said about being approached by Sauerland last year. “When I started to see the quality of the material and the quality of the people, I immediately knew it was something I wanted to be involved in and know will succeed.
“These are people who not only have passion and deep pockets for the sport, these are people with the expertise to execute a tournament like this at the highest level.”
The annual tournaments will run two weight classes simultaneously with the finals of the first tournaments set to take place in May 2018. The winner of each bracket will also receive the Muhammad Ali Trophy.
As far as who will compete, Schaefer said the first two weight classes will be finalized in the next six to eight weeks. From there, a live-televised Draft Gala will take place in June, with the top four seeded fighters able to pick their own opponents from the group.
“Fighters will have be ranked in the top 15 in their weight class by one of the sanctioning organizations [to be eligible],” Schaefer said. “But the goal really is to try and attract two champions from each weight classes. We want to have current champions, we want to have former champions and we want to have up-and-comers. We hope that the feel of the eight fighters participating is a representation of the best talent in a particular weight class.”
While it’s difficult to assume that all promoters and sanctioning bodies would be willing to work with each other considering boxing’s broken political climate, Schaefer said he believes the amount of money offered will go a long way in opening those doors.
“We are not here to conquer and divide, we are here to add [to the sport],” Sauerland said. “This is about putting the best fights on and ultimately we are talking about a sizable check here, which is better for all promoters.”
Each fighter will compete for the same mandatory purse in each round, with a bonus set aside for the winner.
Schaefer said he was hoping to feature welterweights in the first draw but that Showtime’s recent unofficial tournament canceled the need. He mentioned junior middleweight and cruiserweight as possible weight classes for 2017 and said he has drawn interest from Showtime about televising it in America.
“[Showtime Sports executive vice president and general manager] Stephen Espinoza attended the press conference today so they have been looking at it and we are in advanced discussions with him,” Schaefer said. “I think it depends a little bit upon the weight classes and the fighters but we did have some conversations and as Steve put it, there is sort of a framework in place. Now it’s just a matter of selecting the weight classes to see which fighters are available.”
Schaefer, who recently signed a number of Olympians to turn professional under his promotion, said none of his fighters will be entered into the tournaments, which allows him to be a “mutual person” who can meet with all promoters and fighters. Each of the participants will be selected by Comosa AG’s board of directors.
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