In this video interview with iFL TV, promoter Kalle Sauerland fields questions about the reported financial struggles of the World Boxing Super Series, which some believe could spell disaster for the tournament. Check out some excerpts below with the full video interview above...
Sauerland on all the reports of the WBSS’ financial struggles:
“We’re good. We are announcing the dates that you see at the moment. Everyone’s seen their schedules move slightly, but the finals will be the same as last year, completion at the end of September, maybe the beginning of October. But we started a month late this year as well, the first one was in Japan in October.
“Then there was a lot of public issue — made public by certain people — about some issues at the end of last year. The company who we sold the worldwide rights to — so everyone is saying ‘how did you finance the TV’ and everything — but the TV was sold to a company...they went into a wall, so overnight we suddenly had to find money...
“People don’t understand the concept or the set-up. I just work for a company called Comosa. I’m looking after boxing, the Comosa company sits in Switzerland which is two very, very big companies, stock-listed companies who are the shareholders in that — that is Modern Times Group and Highlight. So Modern Times Group is one of the biggest broadcasting corporations in Europe and Highlight is an entertainment giant...
“So they’re the shareholders of the company and they quickly stepped up and said ‘look, okay, bad stuff can happen. We were expecting the money to come in, it didn’t come in’ so they stepped up to the plate and everything was resolved. A few fights got paid late but it wasn’t their purses, it was their bonuses...which for me sitting there trying to handle the fighters is not ideal. But at the end of the day everyone got paid so we move on and everything looks very good for the future.
“We’re working on a very, very interesting broadcasting situation so I think we’re obviously super happy with DAZN in the U.S. — amazing partners, so aggressive, and they really really get the business as well in such a short space of time. I think they’re doing a fantastic job. But watch this space — four, five weeks — you know, you’ll see some big news there as well.
“But first and foremost, what a semifinal line-up! I mean, whoo! That’s hot!”
On Ivan Baranchyk saying he was pulling out of the WBSS and organizers going ahead to announcing his semifinal fight against Josh Taylor anyway:
“So, first of all, when we announced the fight the teams were involved, obviously, before we announced the fight. That was when they would confirm that they were being told to go to Glasgow to fight. Now I’m not saying that preempted anything, but of course in traditional boxing, a champion to travel to the other country is not always the case. But in the World Boxing Super Series it is.
“Usyk fought three times. To win the Ali trophy he had to fight in Russia in the finals — a Ukrainian formerly at war with the other country...In the semifinals in Latvia he had to fight Breidis and won a very close fight...the round before that he went to Germany to fight Marco Huck. So he fought every round away. And that’s the way the tournament works, it doesn’t really account for who’s champion and who’s not...
“So of course they’re not happy about going to Glasgow but Baranchyk is called a ‘beast’ and I don’t think he has an issue in traveling at all but I didn’t think it was the right way to pull out in an interview without talking to us first about this...It was just a weird thing to do.
“But, again, it’s a negotiation tactic from a manager. And the manager’s job...is trying to get the best terms always for the fight...
“There was talk about the bonus was paid late, the date’s a different date, but at the end of the day the stop date of the tournament is still very similar to the first season. But in the end I don’t wanna go too much into the contract, we’re having a very good dialogue with them at the moment, and I’m hopeful that we can come to a very good solution.”
On being in a position where he doesn’t know if Baranchyk will fight in the semifinal bout:
“Contractually it’s very clear. He’s gonna fight, yeah.
“At the moment we’re having a very good dialogue and we’re hoping that he doesn’t go down any other route. And we’re hoping that everything is sorted — if it’s not sorted the we’re obviously gonna have to look into that...”
On what he’ll do if Baranchyk doesn’t show up to fight:
“Well the tournament has a very, very, very open substitute system of course, which would come into effect and then there would obviously be a separate discussion with Barnachyk’s team on how we will proceed with that. But at the moment we’re having a positive dialogue so...”
On Regis Prograis also being unhappy with the tournament, and thinking about withdrawing:
“Once again, we will announce hopefully something later this week with Prograis, I expect him to fight in America. We expect that fight to take place in April.
“There’s issues [with Prograis] because they were originally slated also, potentially, to be fighting in Glasgow — they weren’t too happy with that. So we’ve had a open dialogue with them because there’s also — they say ‘we want to promote him in America.’ And Prograis is a natural for us to promote in America...I think later this week we’ll hopefully announce something.”
On if he sees more problems arising with the tournament:
“Look, problems are part of boxing [Wil’s Note: Ain’t that the goddamn truth!] and it’s always nice as a promoter to sit there and watch the fight at the end. But during the fight we’re thinking about other problems. I think it’s nonstop. Season 1 had a ton of problems. We had all types of situations...I think in Season 1 we actually had more problems than in Season 2...”