World Boxing Super Series: The Muhammad Ali Trophy And $50m Up For Grabs

September 09, 2017

The World Boxing Super Series has been hailed as the "Champions League of boxing". The new event offers a $50m prize fund, a trophy named after Muhammad Ali and its tournament format aims to deliver a flow of easy-to-follow storylines for fans. Its first fight arrives on Saturday, so what impact will the venture have? Will George Groves contest a huge all-British fight with Chris Eubank Jr? And will we get a unified champion?

Nine months and a simple format

Boxing, with its many weight divisions and multitude of belts can be confusing. The World Boxing Super Series aims to be anything but. It will run two tournaments, one for cruiserweights and one for super-middleweights. Within each, eight men will compete from a quarter-final stage through to an eventual winner being crowned in each weight category. Along the way, if a fighter meets an opponent who is currently a world champion, that belt will be on the line.

Quarter-finals aim to be completed by the end of October, semi-finals by the close of February 2018 and winners decided by May. Simple then? But if you are a lover of boxing's trash talk and heated rivalries, fear not as already they seem set to prosper in the format. At the final news conference before Saturday's first cruiserweight bout, Marco Huck pushed WBO world champion Aleksandr Usyk, prompting a furious Usyk to state he will "bury" his rival.

Fighting for the Muhammad Ali Trophy

The Muhammad Ali Trophy the two winners will receive was designed by the late Silvio Gazzaniga, who created and designed the Fifa World Cup trophy in 1971. The two tournaments will boast a $25m prize fund, with the winner of each expected to rake in a haul of $10m in total across the three victories required to land the title.

Boxing does not have the choice of using a penalty shootout to decide any tournament match which ends in a draw on the scorecards, so a quirk in scoring the bouts has been introduced. Any fight deadlocked on all three cards will see a fourth ringside judge called upon. If their card is also level, the winner of the final round of the bout progresses.

Sauerland stresses keenly that on boxing records, such a bout would still be marked as a draw. The tie-break protocol is only used to decide who progresses, not necessarily who wins.