IN these times of proposed breakaway super leagues and unwieldy 48-team World Cups in football, the evolution of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) gladdens the heart about the ability of sports governing bodies to still get it right from time to time.

Put in its most simple terms, the WBSS sensed a need and evolved to fill it. Diagnosing that the obvious problem with boxing was having too many top guys who weren’t prepared to fight each other, WBSS organisers Comosa AG resolved to make it happen. 

Whether they were based in deepest, darkest Ukraine or central London didn’t matter; so long as they were world-class operators with a little bit of pulling power, and were prepared to put their belts on the line, they were in. In these days where UFC and MMA are encroaching on its territory, it may just be the salvation of the sport.

Read more: George Groves - Josh Taylor won't need four attempts to win world title like me

Having deep pockets doesn’t hurt. With financial backers with long-term aims – who were also involved in football’s Champions League – prepared to throw £50m in overall prize money ($10m for every champion) their business plan aimed to make it boxing’s version. 

Their model involves swooping into different weight categories each year, signing up fighters with separate promotional deals, and encouraging them to put their existing belts up for grabs in a winner-takes-all, quarter final, semi-final, final basis; all played out over the course of a year.

In the shadowy world of boxing promotion some wondered how such grand aims might be received, but the first year has been enough of a success story for a second-stage expansion. 

The finals of Year One are yet to be contested, but George Groves and Liverpoool’s Callum Smith will meet in September in an all-British battle for the super middleweight honours – after Groves was granted an extension on independent medical assessment due to an injured shoulder. 

All four world titles will be on the line when two undefeated cruiserweights Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev meet to unify that division later this month in Moscow.

It has proved a boon to old-fashioned boxing fans, who just want to see a proper tear-up, even if it is a Latvian taking on a Belarusian in Riga. 

But it is this new second season which really whets the appetite, with the news that Scotland’s Josh Taylor – already the mandatory challenger for a crack at Jose Ramirez’s WBC title, in the wake of that thrilling points win against Viktor Postol of Ukraine – will enter the competition. 

While Ramirez, a Top Rank fighter, has declined thus far to take part, instead deciding to take on what looks like a straightforward encounter against Danny O’Connor this Saturday night in Fresno, plenty of other top names have, with two world titles brought to the party already. 

Kiryl Relikh, a Belarusian who defeated Ricky Burns two years ago, is the WBA champion, a man who will put that on the line against Eduard Troyanovsky. Then there is the vacant IBF title, which is up for grabs in a quarter-final between Anthony Yigit and Ivan Baranchyk.

Read more: George Groves - Josh Taylor won't need four attempts to win world title like me

Regis Prograis of the USA, the big-mouth native of New Orleans who now fights out of Houston, and the holder the WBC interim belt, will also take part – assuming he defeats Juan Jose Velasco first. That leaves only three spots in the ranking when the draw is made on July 22, but the WBSS will be determined to provide further opposition capable of operating at that level. 

While Taylor said all along that his first choice was to take on Ramirez (perhaps in the USA, as was his right), on balance, entering the WBSS makes even more sense.

With 13 unbeaten fights under his belt, it won’t do him any harm to get up to speed in this environment first. There are few in that category – even Prograis – who the Scot’s promoter Barry McGuigan would be fearful of putting him in with. 

As for Ramirez, with all this transparency around, his decision not to join the WBSS simply makes him look wary of testing himself against the best.

In just over a year’s time, all going well, a battle-hardened Taylor will come out of the WBSS with $10m in his back pocket, two world titles to his name, and ready to unify the division against Ramirez. 


ANYONE who wants to judge the reaction in England to that spot-kick win against Colombia on Tuesday night should ponder for a minute exactly what would be going down in Scotland if we ever got to such a position.

A strangely lopsided draw has opened up in favour of Gareth Southgate’s side after the exits of Germany and Spain, and the Three Lions will fancy their chances of reaching the final at least.

Croatia’s midfield oozes class, though, and a fortnight ago I got Sweden in the office sweepstake and didn’t think a thing about it.