The World Boxing Super Series is coming to the United States.
Cruiserweight world titlist Yunier Dorticos’ bout against “The Russian Hammer” Dmitry Kudryashov in the quarterfinals of the eight-man single-elimination tournament is the first of either the cruiserweight or super middleweight tournaments to be set for the United States. Organizers announced on Thursday that the fight will take place Sept. 23 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
“I’m proud to attend a tournament where Muhammad Ali’s name is on the trophy and I’m looking forward to proving that I’m the best cruiserweight in the world,” said the No. 4-seeded Dorticos, who will be defending his secondary 200-pound title for the first time against unseeded Kudryashov.
Dorticos (21-0, 20 KOs), 31, who defected from Cuba and lives in Miami, said he is pleased the fight — which many expect to be action-packed — will take place in the U.S. as all of the other bouts scheduled so far in both tournaments will take place in Europe.
“I am also happy that this bout is in the United States, which I now consider my country,” Dorticos said. “I am sure that on Sept. 23rd, I will be victorious.
Kudryashov calls himself ‘Russian Hammer,’ but do not forget that there is also a Cuban hammer in this fight. My nickname is ‘The KO Doctor,’ and Kudryashov is my next patient.”
Kudryashov (21-1, 21 KOs), 31, of Russia, has won three fights in a row since his only defeat, a second-round knockout to Olanrewaju Durodola. Kudryashov avenged that loss in his last fight, a fifth-round knockout win on June 3. The fight with fellow big puncher Dorticos will be Kudryashov’s first outside of Russia.
“I can’t wait for this fight to take place. One thing is for sure — the crowd in San Antonio gets an explosive affair that doesn’t go the distance,” Kudryashov said. “I think it’s amazing that this tournament only contains the best of the best, all four reigning cruiserweight champions. I have respect for Dorticos and the other participants, but they will also respect my hammer because it will bring me all four titles and the Muhammad Ali Trophy.”
The card, being promoted by Ringstar Sports promoter Richard Schaefer, is also likely to include the return of former four-division world titleholder Nonito Donaire, who recently signed with Schaefer after being released from his contract by Top Rank earlier this year.
Donaire, 34, known as the “Filipino Flash,” has not fought since November, when he lost his junior featherweight world title by controversial decision to Jessie Magdaleno. For his next fight, Donaire (37-4, 24 KOs) is moving back up to featherweight, where he once held a title, for a tune up bout before a likely title shot in first part of 2018.
The other cruiserweight quarterfinal bouts will pit No. 1 Oleksandr Usyk (12-0, 10 KOs), of Ukraine, in a world title defense against former titleholder Marco Huck (40-4-1, 27 KOs), of Germany, on Sept. 9 at Max-Schmeling-Halle in Berlin, Germany; No. 2 Murat Gassiev (24-0, 17 KOs), of Russia, in a title defense against Polish mandatory challenger Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (53-3-1, 37 KOs) at a location and date to be determined; and No. 3 Mairis Briedis (22-0, 18 KOs), of Latvia, will defend his belt against Ireland-based Cuban defector Mike Perez (22-2-1, 14 KOs) on Sept. 30 at Riga Arena in Riga, Latvia.
In the super middleweight quarterfinals, No. 2 seed Callum Smith (22-0, 17 KOs) will face Sweden’s unseeded Erik Skoglund (26-0, 12 KOs) on Sept. 16 at Echo Arena in Smith’s hometown of Liverpool, England; No. 3 Chris Eubank Jr. (25-1, 19 KOs), of England, will face Turkey’s Avni Yildirim (16-0, 10 KOs) on Oct. 7 at Hanns-Martin-Schleyer Halle in Stuttgart, Germany; world titleholder George Groves (26-3, 19 KOs), the No. 1 seed, will face unseeded British countryman Jamie Cox (23-0, 13 KOs) on Oct 14 at SSE Wembley Arena in London; and No. 4 Juergen Braehmer (48-3, 35 KOs), a former light heavyweight world titleholder from Germany, and St. Paul, Minnesota’s Rob Brant (22-0, 15 KOs), will meet on a date and location to be determined, though that bout is likely to take place in the U.S.
The 16 fighters in the two tournaments will divvy up $50 million in prize money. After the quarterfinals take place in September and October, the semifinals are supposed to take place in early 2018 with the finals ticketed for May 2018. An American television deal for both tournaments has not yet been worked out.