By Terence Dooley
With George Groves (27-3, 20 KOs) and Chris Eubank (26-1, 20 early) set to go at it for the WBA Super World Super middleweight and IBO titles respectively on Saturday as well as Juergen Braehmer versus Callum Smith good to go in Germany next week the World Boxing Super Series 168lb tournament is well on course for its June 2 final at the O2 Arena in London.
Unlike the Super Six, its precursor, the WBSS has moved at a brisk pace and also looks set to establish a dominant figure at Super middle as well as unifying the cruiserweight titles, but the main thing is that the fighters have produced in the ring.
Kalle Sauerland, the Chief Boxing Officer for the WBSS, expects both Groves and Eubank to respond in kind to the success of the cruiserweight semi-finals by producing fireworks at the Manchester Arena on Saturday night as they both strive to reach the showpiece summer finale.
“They are now under pressure to put on a great show after the way the cruiserweights have raised the bar,” he said when speaking to BoxingScene. “We expect two great fights then we can look forward to the final at the O2 in London. We are already working on season two, I am totally focussed on my role with them (the WBSS).”
The sweet science of boxing is heavily reliant on the alchemy of matchmaking, success and good fights is not always guaranteed yet Sauerland believes that you have more chance of producing FOTY candidates if you match the best against the best on a regular basis. “When you have quality against quality you are much more likely than not to get a super fight,” he added.
“In boxing you’ve always had that element of risk of cuts or flash knockouts, but when you have two undefeated guys coming into the ring you know they will go at tooth and nails until the last bell. Bums on seats are nice, but if you deliver great fights you are going to get that anyway—it also increases the spotlight on the sport. TV figures have been very healthy, so I’m hoping that we’ve encouraged people to watch because they also see the side programming, they see the product and, as a promoter, it took us four years to put this together.
“And when I say four years I’m talking intense work combined with our normal promotional schedule [Sauerland’s brother, Nisse, is handling the day-to-day affairs for Sauerland Promotion]. It is a team of about 15 people working hard to prevent problems so if we got injuries—and touch wood we don’t—there was a plan in place or a way of overcoming political issues. As an organisation we are putting this Champions League format on without bias, without the clouds that boxing sometimes as, and we are moving forward to create something that will let us see the best fighting the best every year.”
Boxing fans have bought into the format, as have the fighters involved, and entrants are not tied to the WBSS long-term. They make good money, can win titles and, in Sauerland’s opinion, even the losers have benefitted from the first season.
“It is not just a big paycheque,” he said. “Obviously this is professional boxing so, as a fighter, you have a limited career and it is all about making the most money, but this is a whole package. We have side programming for each event, teams following them for a 24/7 all the time. As a boxer, there is a huge upside for your brand. It is a very interesting package for a fighter: money, exposure and sold out venues.
“The Super Six was something I thought would benefit the sport of boxing due to the format, and it benefitted both Carl Froch and Andre Ward, who went on to headline pay-per-views. I’m a big fan of the way boxing is promoted when it is promoted right. Boxing lacked a format, but this is the format that can take it further.”
Although Sauerland is the public face of the endeavour, the 40-year-old has a solid support network who ensure that the logistics are in place for multi-venue broadcasts. Their production trucks have crisscrossed Europe throughout the tournament, and it will be no different this and next weekend.
“The most important of the balance that we try to get is that we have a very corporate approach to it, with two stock listed companies and shareholders, and a very big team that travels to every event with our own production—I think we have eight trucks on their way from Sochi to Nuremberg with our second set in Manchester,” he revealed.
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