The Big Question: Who will win the WBSS bantam tournament?

Boxing Monthly
26/08/2018 2:47pm

Season 2 of the World Boxing Super Series sees eight of the world's leading bantamweights vying for supremacy. Anthony Cocks, Lee Gormley, Michael Montero, Andrew Harrison, Colin Harris and Marcus Bellinger discuss who they believe will lift the Muhammad Ali trophy and who might spring a surprise or two...


I've been on the Naoya Inoue bandwagon for a long time. I'm not getting off now. He wins the tourney for me. The surprise package is Jason Moloney, who has the right balance of boxing ability and killer instinct combined with youth and hunger to give a top showing. - Anthony Cocks

I don't see there being any shocks in the opening bouts, so Ryan Burnett, Zolani Tete, Inoue and Emmanuel Rodriguez should all progress. That's where it gets really interesting. I like Rodriguez a lot, he's great to watch and has nice boxing skills, but Inoue would likely be too much for him at this stage and Burnett against Tete would be a highly intriguing match-up. At the moment, before things get started, it's hard to look past Inoue outright. He's a wrecking ball and could dominate, but it will be interesting to see how he deals with coming up against other elite fighters like Burnett or Tete. Currently 'The Monster' is my pick but I wouldn't rule out Burnett causing a shock and going all the way. - Lee Gormley

I like Burnett, Tete, Inoue and Rodriguez to advance to the semis. The two favorites in this tourney are Burnett and Inoue, but I think Tete will turn some heads. Although the South African has been a pro for a dozen years, he's only 30 years old. Other than Nonito Donaire he's the most experienced, traveled and battle-tested fighter in the field and I believe that will serve him well in the tournament. - Michael Montero

I can’t see anything other than the top four seeds progressing to the semi-finals. I tend to side with steady, consistent and fundamentally sound boxers in tournaments, and that makes me lean towards Rodriguez. He’ll need to progress from what we’ve seen of him thus far but he strikes me as the likely winner. Inoue looks phenomenal and has a lot of backers but we’ve only seen him fight at bantamweight once, against a horribly weight-drained Jamie McDonnell. At the risk of looking foolish, I’ll hold off making him the odds-on favourite until he fights a better prepared bantamweight away from home (he’s only fought on the road once). Tete is an equally destructive force but he may be susceptible to being out-boxed. Burnett is both skilful and tough but what has impressed me most is his ability to find a way to win. He’s the most unpredictable of the big four. I just have a sneaking suspicion that Ryan’s picked himself a really dangerous draw against Donaire. Most expect the Filipino to be dead at the weight – but if he isn’t and he has one last huge performance in him, he may cause Burnett some real problems (and in this format, hard fights could prove telling in the latter stages). Give me Rodriguez at 5-to-1. - Andrew Harrison

The biggest intrigue of the first round is whether Donaire can make weight and/or make weight effectively, remembering he hasn't been at 118lbs since 2011. I don't think he will be able to pull off a huge surprise, and certainly not win three fights in a row, but I do consider him to be the dark horse of the tournament. I think we'll see semi-finals of: Burnett vs Tete and Inoue vs Rodriguez. It's tough to bet against Burnett but I wonder if Tete will scrape past him, and as good as Rodriguez looks there is a reason Inoue has started as odds-on favourite to win this thing. Despite his lack of size, and short stint at bantamweight thus far, I'm sticking with Inoue to be the overall victor and hold three of the four world titles when the final has taken place. - Colin Harris

Inoue will win the whole thing, I've no doubt about that. As for the other quarter-finals I think Burnett is an overwhelming favourite against Donaire but for me there is some intrigue in the other two. I have to be truthful and say that Mikhail Aloyan really wasn't a favourite of mine when he was an amateur and he has shown plenty of fragility as a pro, but at times Tete can fall into cruise control which if he's not careful could cost him, especially if - as has been rumoured - he takes on Aloyan in his back yard. Definitely the most interesting quarter-final is between Rodriguez and Moloney and whilst the Puerto Rican was impressive against an overweight Paul Butler I'd like to see more of him and I've been quite impressed with what I've seen of the unbeaten Aussie. - Marcus Bellinger