It’s a great idea– in principle. A $50 million, 16-man tournament in each division (two tournaments a year) featuring fighters ranked in the top 15 of the four sanctioning bodies competing for the awesome-looking Muhammad Ali Trophy
That’s the premise behind The World Boxing Super Series, an ambitious project officially announced on Thursday and spearheaded by the upstart Comosa AG, a marketing and broadcasting firm with an eye on the boxing business.
Former Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, who is Comosa AG’s Chairman of the Americas, and promoter Kalle Sauerland, who is serving as the company’s Chief Boxing Officer, will be involved in the project. The effort, according to the company’s press release issued Thursday, will also employ an expert panel consisting of “former pros, journalists, respected experts and people with a strong and respected public connection to the sport.”
These are the types of gimmicks boxing needs. As Roberto
Dalmiglio, Comosa’s Head of Management Board said in that same press release: “The tournament will set new standards, ensure coherent storylines and provide top-class boxing throughout the year.”
Tournaments, by their very nature, force match-ups and create the kinds of fan-friendly narratives sorely lacking in the fight business today.
But, while the idea is a winner in principle, in practice, it will be extremely hard to put together as a major event.
Even with $50 million to play with, The World Boxing Super Series will have trouble enticing the sport’s biggest stars to participate. It’s hard to imagine Top Rank, Golden Boy, or any boxing promoter (or manager, for that matter) risking their top fighters on a project they can’t fully control.
It’s likely that the “revolutionary bracket-style elimination tournament featuring the world`s best boxers” will be populated by fringe contenders and faded former champions, rather than the actual “best” boxers. And there’s a chance that, by tournament’s end, the overall talent level will be diminished even further as injuries and/or other commitments pull participants from competition to be replaced by fighters from the pool of “reserve boxers.”
Comosa’s boxing minds, Schaefer and Sauerland, understand the knee jerk boxing reaction to keep investments “in house” and have been speaking to the media to reach the businessmen behind the fighters.
“We are not here to conquer and divide,” Sauerland told ESPN. “We are here to add [to boxing]. This is about putting the best fights on, and ultimately, we are talking about a sizable check, which is better for all promoters.”
The project organizers, which are in the process of hammering out broadcast deals for the tournament, promise wide-scale TV exposure on a global level. But they fail to answer the question of why fighters who already have regular TV exposure and are bound by exclusive contracts would try to sign up. There really doesn’t seem to be an answer for that one.
Again, the World Boxing Super Series looks more aimed at those who either need to make a name for themselves or those struggling to regain past glories.
But, still, this is a good idea and it’s, ultimately, a win-win for fans who get to see more fighters in more compelling match-ups. Boxing needs ideas. Anything that aims to stir up interest in a sport that often seems bogged down by a stubborn lack of imagination and foresight is a positive.
Click HERE for a FAQ info sheet on The World Boxing Super Series (PDF File).