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Holyfield and WBC team up to create welterweight tournament

The Jose Sulaiman World Invitational will begin in 2018.

Beyond Sport Global Awards Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images
Wil Esco is an assistant editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2014.

Real Deal Boxing, a boxing promotional firm headed by former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, has officially linked up with the WBC to create a new welterweight tournament for 2018, ESPN reports.

The ‘Jose Sulaiman World Invitational’ will have three cards in the coming year at locations to be determined, and will be accepting applications from interested welterweights through January 12.

This won’t be a high-level tournament like the Super Six or the World Boxing Super Series though, but it will provide a platform for up-and-coming fighters to earn a high ranking with the WBC, which could lead to an eventual world title opportunity.

"Evander Holyfield and the Real Deal Boxing [are] making my father's dream a reality," Mauricio Sulaiman said. "The Jose Sulaiman World Invitational tournament will lead our sport into a new era as these concepts truly capture the essence of boxing and its global interest. Fighters from around the world will meet to have a sole winner, who will eventually be finding a world title opportunity in the world's most important boxing entity, the WBC.”

All fighters in the opening round of the tournament will receive a purse of $15,000, with a $7,500 bonus to the winners. The semifinal participants will then receive $30,000 purse with an additional $15,000 up for grabs to the winners. Lastly, the fighters who make it to the finals will earn $75,000 apiece, with the tournament winner getting a $25,000 bonus. Both the quarter and semifinal rounds will be scheduled for 10 rounds, with a potential 11th round should there be a draw on the cards.

That’s different, but it’s not the only difference we’ll see in this tourney! The WBC is also using the tournament to introduce some of their new rules and procedures. For one, a fan poll and the WBC ratings committee will end up determining the appropriate seeds for the participating fighters.

Next there will be some sort of ‘standardized scoring process,’ which the WBC hopes will mitigate any potential scoring controversies, but it has yet to be released what that will specifically entail. What we do know is that in addition to the three judges that typically score fights, there will also be a fourth judge sitting ringside, with a fifth judge placed in front of a television monitor with the sound off (for those of you who believe that’s the only way to properly score a fight). All five scorecards will be used to determine the winner if the fight goes the distance.

Finally, the WBC plans to utilize their open scoring system for the tournament. The open scoring system publicly reveals the official scores from the judges during the fight, which offers both transparency to fans and a chance for fighters to change their tactics if they know they’re down on points. This may take some doing, however, as many commissions in the U.S. don’t allow open scoring.

That probably just means they’ll have to find a commission willing to play ball, and really, I don’t expect that to be too much of a problem. The tournament will also keep two fighters on reserve just in case someone has to drop out.

More details on the tournament are expected to be released in the coming weeks.

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