With a prize that consists of the Muhammad Ali trophy, the WBC Diamond Belt and a cheque for $25million, it’s no wonder that every super-middleweight on the planet was desperate for an invitation.
The quarter final bouts have been drawn and with the first fights getting underway in September, here is a look at the eight super-middleweights who will be battling it out in this nine-month super tournament.
George Groves (26-3,19 KOs)
It was fourth time lucky for ‘The Saint’ in May. After three failed attempts at claiming world title honors, the London fighter was finally crowned WBA super-middleweight champion after a classy performance against the resilient Fedor Chudinov.
Only a matter of days after winning his first world title, Groves quickly made his intentions clear as he announced himself as the first star to enter the Super Series.
Still, the only man to defeat IBF champion James DeGale, Groves’ profile exploded after his bitter two-fight rivalry with his greatest advisory Carl Froch. After a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of Badou Jack in 2015, Groves has bounced back in emphatic style. Winning five in a row and capturing the WBA world title this year sees the Londoner top the tournaments ranking chart.
First round opponent – Jamie Cox
Callum Smith (22-0,17 KOs)
With a guaranteed shot at the vacant WBC world title, the unbeaten Liverpudlian was a surprise entrant into the Super Series tournament. But, after his potential opponent, Anthony Dirrell persistently tried to change the date and venue of their WBC clash, the youngest of the Smith family decided that the chance to fight for the $25million prize was too tempting to turn away.
Although ‘Mundo’ might be untested among the super-middleweight elite, his amateur pedigree and overwhelming weight advantage have seen him shot up to second in the tournament rankings.
First-round opponent – Erik Skoglund
Chris Eubank Jnr (24-1,19 KOs)
The man is like marmite, you either love him, or you hate him. But, following a convincing win against former two-weight world champion Arthur Abraham, in only his second fight at the super-middleweight, Jnr currently holds the IBO world title and has bulldosed through his two tests at this weight.
After a glittering career at middleweight, Eubanks dominant performances at British title level saw him heavily linked with the divisions’ superstars, including middleweight king Gennady Golovkin. With the fight all but signed, the whacky duo decided against the challenge and have been universally branded as impossible to work with.
Now the poster boy for the revamped ITV boxing, the controversial and hugely popular Eubank, will no doubt guarantee roller coaster journey.
First-round opponent – Avni Yildirim
Jamie Cox (23-0,13 KOs)
The fourth and final Brit to make the cut sees the unknown quantity of Jamie Cox make the step up. Often on the fringes of British boxing, Cox’s move to the Matchroom stable had seen him earn a guaranteed shot at Rocky Fielding and the British title.
Despite a shot at domestic honors in the bank, the heavy handed Englishman has opted for the more lucrative path. With a first round draw against the bookies favorite George Groves confirmed, Cox has the power to cause a real upset.
Don’t be fooled by his lack of experience, the former Commonwealth gold medalist may be one of the smaller men in the tournament, but, his previous performances have shown why he is widely regarded as a potential future champion.
First-round opponent – George Groves
Jurgen Braehmer (48-3,35 KOs)
Now at 38, Braehmer will be entering the tournament as the veteran of the pack. Stepping down from light-heavyweight for the first time since 2007, the former WBA ‘regular’ champion might find it a struggle getting back down to 168Ibs.
One good omen for the German tho, he will be glad to know he has avoided one of the Brits in his first-round draw. Coming off the back of a defeat to Nathan Cleverly in October, the 51-fight veteran has proven over his career he is an in ring tactician and is going to be a very difficult task for anyone to handle.
First-round opponent – Rob Brant
Erik Skoglund (26-0,12 KOs)
At 6ft 1inch and coming down from light-heavyweight for the first time in his career, it’s no surprise that the Swed has been billed as the biggest in the group. Heavily backed by the series organisers, Sauerland promotions, the man from Nykoping will know that if he can manage the weight properly, his physical presence could give him a very helpful advantage.
Still unbeaten and with a decorated amateur pedigree behind him, Skoglund has transitioned well into the professional ranks. His reputation for producing grueling fights will mean tough nights work for whoever crosses his path, watch out Callum Smith.
First-round opponent – Callum Smith
Avni Yildirim (16-0,10 KOs)
There’s a reason why he’s called ‘The Dentist’. Although Yildirim may not be a household name, the Turk has gained a reputation as a brutal sparring partner to some of the divisions top stars, including IBF champion, James DeGale.
With a solid list of amateur credentials on his CV, the 25-year-old has boxed across the globe and he enjoyed success in Germany, America, Italy & Mexico.
Still with an unbeaten professional record and a world title shot in the horizon. Yildirim will enter the tournament as the dark horse, but, with 10 knockout wins already to his name, Turkish boxing’s hottest commodity could use this stage to announce himself to world boxing.
First-round opponent – Chris Eubank Jnr
Rob Brant (22-0,15 KOs)
The only man who will be flying the American flag come September. Relatively unheard of outside of The States and spending the majority of his career fighting at middleweight, ‘Bravo’ will enter the tournament as the ultimate underdog.
Highly ranked in the WBO chart’s, Brant has recently found himself in the picture for a world title shot at Billy Joe Saunders. After making his name in gyms across America, the 26-year-old has spent time sparring with the likes of Errol Spence Jnr and his eye catching style has seen the American pundits very excited by their young prospect.
Inspired by what the current pound for pound king, Andre Ward achieved in the Super Six tournament in 2011, America will be hoping for another underdog story.
First-round opponent – Juergen Braehmer