Today the line-up for the first ever ‘Jose Sulaiman World Invitational’ was announced and, while the Belfast welterweight is not one of the eight fighters announced for the World Boxing Super Series-style tournament, Gallagher is one of four confirmed reserves
The competition is backed by the WBC and promoted by heavyweight legend Evander Holyfield, with the first night of action set for Friday April 28th in Louisville, Kentucky, the birthplace of the great Muhammad Ali.
The eight fighters confirmed for the tournament are:
Felix Diaz [19(9)-2(1)] – Dominican Republic
Chris van Heerden [25(12)-2(1)-1] – South Africa
Frederick Lawson [26(21)-1(1)] – Ghana
Radzhab Butaev [8(6)-0] – Russia
Brad Solomon [27(9)-1(0)] – USA
Timo Schwarzkopf [18(10)-1(0)] – Kosovo
Derrieck Cuevas [16(13)-0-1] – Puerto Rico
Baishanbo Nasiwula [13(6)-1(0)-1]
Reigning BBBoC Celtic champion and Commonwealth gold medalist Gallagher is one of four reserves along with Mexican Mauricio Pintor [20(13)-3(0)-1], American Francisco Santana [26(12)-6(1)-1] and Russian Sergiy Lubkovich [7(6)-0].
Two of these four reserves will fight each other on the opening night in April and the match-up will be decided by a public vote.
There has been a surprisingly strong sign-up to the tournament, with plenty of familiar names including Olympic gold medalist and world title challenger Diaz, contender (and infamous sparring partner of Conor McGregor) van Heerden, and hot prospect Butaev – whom Irish fans may be familiar with as the Russian World Series of Boxing star who ceded his Rio Olympic qualification slot and allowed Ballymena’s Steven Donnelly to make the Games.
The competition will be run over three nights spread over this year, with four quarter-finals on the first card followed by a semi-final double-header and then the big finals night.
The quarters and semis will be fought over ten rounds – with a special eleventh round should cards be level – while the grand final is over twelve rounds.
There is substantial prize money at stake, with the winner in line to take home $167,500 (€135,000 / £120,000 approximately).
Each quarter-finalist receives a purse of $15,000, and winners receiving a victory bonus of $7,500. Semi-finalists net purses of $30,000, with an additional $15,000 for winners. The two finalists will take home $75,000, with another $25,000 then going to the champion.
A competition looking to innovate, the initial match-ups will be in-part decided by a public vote. The Real Deal website will be running a poll (closing date Monday February 26th) and the results will make up 50% of the decision-making process for the quarter-final match-ups.
The fights will also use five judges rather than the standard three. One of these judges will be off-site, watching the fight without sound on a TV monitor. There will also be open scoring, with the scores of rounds becoming known immediately following their conclusion.
Former two-weight champion Holyfield said that “[t]his is an excellent selection of highly talented and very hungry fighters from all over the world. The first round is a great opportunity for fans to be involved in choosing the matchups they want to see.”
The opening round match-ups will be revealed on Wednesday February 28th.