The Big Question: Who will triumph in the World Boxing Super Series?
We asked our online team for their views of the World Boxing Super Series tournaments, and their predictions for which cruiserweights and super middleweights might prevail...
When I read about the World Boxing Super Series I was mildly interested as I thought it would end up being full of second-tier fighters instead of four world champions and their four mandatory contenders (which is the situation we'd all like to see in every weight division).
However, the cruiserweight tourney has totally got my attention and I can't wait. The only possible big names missing are Denis Lebedev (who really shouldn't have that WBA 'super' strap anyway) and Tony Bellew - but if the eight-man tourney sees all fighters make it to the end, with none of the champions being stripped of their titles ... then how can any fight fan NOT be enthused by it! It's brilliant!
The 12st tourney is a let-down by comparison - despite three big names, the only belt in it is a WBA super title (that should not have been contested again after Tyron Zeuge was made 'regular' champion). I was surprised Callum Smith went in for this after all he did to get a title shot but he starts as favourite in my book, with WBA super champ Groves or Chris Eubank Jr (who will beat Arthur Abraham for the final slot) his likely finalist.
In summary: cruiserweight looks awesome, super middle will pass the time and Oleksandr Usyk and Smith will be victorious - if the format holds true to the end.- Colin Harris
It's between Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev from this stacked cruiserweight tournament. Many forget that the Russian is only 23 years of age and hits with real professional grade power; whereas the Ukrainian southpaw is 30 and does not sit down on his punches. These two will meet in the finale. Early on I favour Usyk, but I'm keeping my eye on Gassiev.
The underrated super middleweight field features veterans and prospects alike. Half of the fighters are from the UK, which will make for some fun 'all-UK' match ups with terrific fan atmospheres. I believe it will be Callum Smith and Chris Eubank Jr in the finale; and I tip the Liverpool native to come out on top. - Michael Montero
Surely there will be a surprise or two in both tournaments? In the 2009-11 'Super Six' Mikkel Kessler and, I believe, Arthur Abraham, were the betting favourites. Kessler dropped out, and Abraham lost three of his four fights.
The rules for dropping out of the tournament may be significant - is this an option without financial punishment? With apparently $50m in prize money, surely the organisers will not want to see guys dropping out if they don’t like their draw, or if limited participation has served its purpose to further their career.
Before the bandwagon goes any further, I’ll join the Avni Yildirim party at super middleweight and, to carry on being contrary, I’ll back the brutal punching power of Dmitry Kudryashov to prevail in a high calibre, but wide open cruiserweight tournament. - Martin Chesnutt
In what is a superb cruiserweight field Oleksandr Usyk will almost certainly come away with the winner's trophy. He is a world and Olympic gold medallist that has moved into the professional game seamlessly. At 12-0 he has by far the least miles on the clock and therefore I imagine he will deal with the busy schedule far better than the likes of Marco Huck and Krzysztof Wlodarczyk. Although the competition is aided by having three of the cruiser world titlists involved, the only let down from a British perspective is that there are no real big UK names to attract the more casual fan. I would also like to see Mike Perez pick up a world title at some stage of the tournament.
Although the super middleweight tournament does look a bit threadbare of elite level fighters, from a UK point of view it is intriguing. Providing nobody drops out, we should see at least one or possibly two mega fights in Britain with Callum Smith, George Groves and Chris Eubank Jr all in the mix (providing Eubank beats Abraham). Unlike the cruiserweight competition, the winner of this field can't be regarded as the best of best with Gilberto Ramirez and James DeGale both not involved. My pick right now would be Callum Smith. He height and reach may trouble fighters such as Eubank and his sheer power to both body and head will be tough for the likes of Groves to stand up to. - Jack Laidler
I'm going for Oleksandr Usyk in the cruisers. He's facing one of my favourites in Marco Huck, but the throwback Bosniak/German is sadly past his best days, so I see this fight as a passing of the torch for Huck and possibly his bowing out platform. Mike Perez could prove to be the wild card to watch out for....
The super middles are quite closely matched. I'm going for Callum Smith, but it won't be a walk in the park for him like many believe. George Groves will come a close second. I also believe Chris Eubank Jr will be exposed at true super middleweight level (assuming he comes through the Abraham test).If this was a middleweight tournament, I'd give him a reasonable chance (as long as Canelo, GGG, Danny Jacobs and Billy Joe Saunders were not included or were having a very bad day), but walking in the ring with someone like a 6ft 3 inch Smith, or a Groves, who will naturally be at least a stone heavier on fight night, will be a shock in terms of power and size.
Junior's advantage is his fitness - yes, he has a good stoppage record, but he doesn't possess one-punch Nigel Benn-style knockout power. He stops opponents through volumes of hard punches...which I doubt he will be able to fully unload against this crop of super middles. His dad says he always finds a way to win, so don't totally rule him out. It's an intriguing line-up at both weights and I look forward to seeing some shock results and possibly a few stars in the making... - Paul Zanon
Two terrific tournaments, the absence of BM's number one and number two super middles notwithstanding. I'm going for Murat Gassiev to upset pre-tournament favourite Oleksandr Usyk at cruiser and George Groves to channel his greater experience to edge out the claims of Callum Smith at super middle.
I'd give Chris Eubank Jr a fighting chance of beating Groves, but I get the feeling if any one is going to fall by the wayside of the tournament through injury or a promotional spat then it's him. - Luke G. Williams
I think we all agree than the cruiserweight tournament is outstanding. I'm torn between tipping Oleksandr Usyk and Mairis Breidis as for me they are the most well-rounded fighters in the bracket, but I'll go with the Ukrainian to prevail.
The super middleweight tournament doesn't really float my boat a huge amount but I'm going with the wild card of Avni Yildirim, as I remain highly unconvinced by the totally unproven Chris Eubank Jr and Callum Smith, while George Groves isn't a reliable pick for my liking. - Marcus Bellinger
The cruiserweight section of this tournament has rightly taken the headlines, with all four sanctioning bodies represented (WBA being the 'Regular' version, but with Lebedev being recently beaten by IBF champ, Gassiev this has balanced itself out). The tournament should therefore crown an undisputed and lineal champion for the first time in the 'Big Four' era.
While the cruiserweight tournament is the more exciting, I think it's also the slightly more predictable one with Usyk being a big favourite. Outside of that I would probably pick Gassiev as my dark horse - if you can call him that.
The super middleweight tournament doesn't have as many belts (just the WBA and IBO) but I think this is the more competitive event. One thing that the Super Six tournament showed us is that just because the competitors aren't household names, doesn't mean they aren't good. Andre Ward eventually winning the tournament showed us that.
This tournament is packed with unknown quantities, from bookies' favourite Callum Smith to the undefeated Avni Yildirim. But my pick is neither unknown or undefeated and that's Chris Eubank Jr. This tournament is just what Eubank needs to really push his career forward and I think he's finally ready to fulfill his potential. - Callum Rudge
We win! Seriously, the cruiserweight tournament is so stacked, it's very hard to call the winner. Usyk and Gassiev are the top two seeds and rightly so after their breakout, title-winning 2016. I'll be rooting for Gassiev but reckon Usyk is most likely to win the tournament. He'll come through the battle-scarred Marco Huck relatively unscathed and has the skills, youth and adaptability to overcome anyone else in the field. Outside of the top two, Paul rightly points to Perez as a dark horse pick.
The twelve stone division tournament isn't quite as dream-like as the cruiser equivalent but I fancy George Groves to take it. Jamie Cox is likely to find himself hopelessly out of depth challenging Groves if his recent showings are anything to go by and I'd fancy Groves to beat fellow Brits Smith (who fights like a less fluid, less experienced version of Groves) and Eubank Jr, who is untested at the weight until the Abraham 'eliminator'. - Chris Williamson