By Tomi Pradarics
The first ever Muhammad Ali Trophy was handed to Oleksandr Usyk after the Ukrainian fighter belted fellow unbeaten Murat Gassiev in the finals of the cruiserweight version of the World Boxing Super Series on July 21 in Moscow, Russia.
The tournament caught the attention of millions of fans around the globe thanks to the exciting pairings and action-packed matchups between the division’s top-rated boxers in a short, less than twelve months period of time.
The general verdict regarding the eight-men, three-round series turned to be A+ that quickly made the powers behind the WBSS announce the second season of the tournament with the involvement of now three divisions.
However, anticipation around the WBSS were not that high early on. Most of the fans and insiders were skeptical before the kick-off of the inaugural series of events about how serious the hosts really are regarding the technical background and details of the nice-looking offers.
According to Usyk’s promoter, Alex Krassyuk, Team Usyk remained suspicious about the offer early on.
“It was a time of contradictions. At first, I did not believe the tournament would happen. Then my old friend and colleague Chris Meyer who was responsible for the boxing operations at Comosa AG convinced me that serious people stand behind the project. So, our team was considering the offer for quite a while. Finally, we took a decision to step in,” remembered Krassyuk in a recent interview with this writer for BoxingScene.com.
The Ukrainian businessman, who is the General Director of K2 Promotions in Ukraine, says they realized the depth behind the words in Monaco, where all eight tournament participants were presented to officially announce the series in July 2017. The draft gala was only days after Team Usyk decided to participate.
“We were the last at cruiserweight to sign the contract. Then the draw in Monaco took place, and Comosa AG showed its serious intention to establish the new coordinate system in professional boxing. After that, the regular boxing routine took place.”
After his top-seeded protégé happened to win the whole tournament, Krassyuk obviously feels his company did the right choice to sign up for the series.
“Lots of things happened within these 12 months but the result is wonderful, and I am happy we took the decision to participate.”
Usyk (15-0, 11 KOs), who also became the first undisputed world champion at cruiserweight in the four-belt era with his victory over Gassiev (26-1, 19 KOs) in the finals, is now rated in the top 5 of many pound for pound lists and is now expected to have a super-fight against former cruiserweight world champion Tony Bellew. The targeted date and location for the carnage is November 10th in the UK.
You can reach Tamas Pradarics at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @TomiPradarics.