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Friday, March 10, 2017

No Holds Barred: Can the World Boxing Super Series Succeed? 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman reports from kickoff news conference of the newly-created World Boxing Super Series, which was held March 9 in New York.

The basic format of this ambitious project is to have two annual 16-man tournaments in different weight classes to crown winners of the Muhammad Ali Trophy, which was made with the support of the family of the late heavyweight champion and worldwide sports icon. They aim not to supplant the various sanctioning bodies and promoters, but to add this new tournament to the existing events held around the world in boxing, and to create "the greatest prize in boxing". Half of the fights are planned for Europe with the other half for the U.S.

No fighters were at this news conference, nor were the specific weight classes for the inaugural tournament mentioned, although they do plan a drawing for the tournaments and seeding at an event planned for June, with the first fights in September of this year.

The fighters, they said, will be chosen from among the top 15-ranked fighters in the four major sanctioning bodies. Those much-criticized rankings include many different levels of fighters, but the World Boxing Super Series organizers are hopeful that the total of $50 million U.S. dollars to be awarded in prize money to the fighters, with as much as $1 million for winners of the quarterfinals, will be enough to attract all but a handful of top tier fighters who already make that or more. This will also require the cooperation of various promoters and managers, which has often proved difficult to impossible, but again their hope is that money talks.

The four speakers at this news conference were:

-- Matthew Hooper, executive vice president of Modern Times Group (MTG), which is a major shareholder in Comosa AG, which owns the World Boxing Super Series. MTG is a major digital entertainment company based in Sweden, and is involved in TV, radio, online networks, gambling, and eSports.

-- Roberto Dalmiglio, Comosa's Head of Management Board, and group commercial director at media rights company MP & Silva, which is handling media rights outside of Scandinavia and the U.S. MP & Silva manages the sports TV rights for about 10,000 hours of programming to some 500 broadcasters globally, including the FIFA World Cup rights, senior European football leagues, Grand Slam tennis, motor racing, and more.

-- Kalle Sauerland, Comosa's Chief Boxing Officer, who is also a major boxing promoter with Sauerland Promotion, based in Europe.

-- Richard Schaefer, Comosa's Chairman of the Americas, and a long-time boxing promoter and now the chairman and CEO of Ringstar Sports.

To discuss all this, we spoke at this news conference with Kalle Sauerland. We also present the complete audio from the news conference itself, and discuss the prospects for the World Boxing Super Series to succeed.

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