By Victor Salazar
New York - Seven months ago, Richard Schaefer of Ringstar Sports invited the media from New York to a special event at a plush New York Hotel.
The announcement caught many in the industry by surprise. And that announcement was the creation of the World Boxing Super Series, a single-elimination tournament with 8 of the best fighters from two divisions.
These two divisions would split a pot of prize money in the amount of 50 million dollars between the participants, with the winners taking home the Muhammad Ali Trophy.
Through seven fights in two divisions; cruiserweight and super middleweight, the tournament has had its share of amazing knockouts and action fights. On Saturday, Schaefer - who partnered with Comosa Inc. and Sauerland Promotions - staged the 4th and final quarter-final bout, which saw Murat Gassiev (25-0, 1 NC, 18 KO’s) score a knockout over Krystof Wlodarczyk (53-4-1, 37 KO’s).
After seven fights, Schaefer is pleased with the product.
“I actually believed in this product but I was one of the few,” Schaefer told BoxingScene.com. "When we made the presentation at the Pierre Hotel, I read and saw a lot of people questioning the purses and said I was ambitious. There was a lot of skepticism in the room and in boxing period. Here we are six months later brining one of the quarterfinals to New Jersey. I am really excited and for the sport and the fans. This tournament elevates the sports and is what is what the fighters needed.”
Although none of the participants are from the United States, in order for the tournament to be a success Schaefer felt he had to bring fights to the United States.
“I really pushed for getting the quarterfinals in the US which was really remarkable because they were non-U.S. fighters and I got two fights here,” stated Schaefer. “But I fought hard to get them here. I think it’s important from the branding point of view to have exposure in the United States.”
When delivering the product, Schaefer said he studied previous tournaments ,like the Super Six Super Middleweight tournament, and tweaked some of the issues the tournaments had.
“We learned from the Super Six,” explained the promoter. “People love tournaments and we learned from the Super Six. There were injuries and round-robins and people lost interest. We made it single elimination with alternates on the undercard. It’s win or go home so you have to go with your best and the money is a strong incentive and I think that’s why we seen some of the better fights in the quarterfinals.”
Schaefer does not want to get too ahead of himself - but says the tournament will lead to other tournaments in different divisions, even in some of the glamour divisions in boxing, because of the incentive and minimal attachments for promoters.
“Assuming that this tournament delivers more money than these guys can make, you have to assume why we wouldn’t be able to do it in other divisions. You have to give those promoters an incentive but it’s a win-win for everyone, no one is tied up to a promotional contract or a network,” Schaefer said.