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Belts over Bank Balances: Bantamweight champs aiming to create history in WBSS

The message was clear: all three reigning world bantamweight champions have entered the World Boxing Super Series to prove they are the best in the division.

The three current titlists at the weight, Ireland’s Ryan Burnett (WBA), Puerto Rican Manny Rodriguez (IBF), and South African Zolani Tete (WBO) were yesterday confirmed for the second season of the World Boxing Super Series.

The eight-fighter single-elimination tournament has $4,000,000 for the winner and is certainly financially rewarding but, when speaking briefly about their participation in the contest, all three champions were keen to point out the chance to become known as the best of the best was a key behind their decision to enter.

Already at this stage, with less than half the line up confirmed for the 118lbs version of groundbreaking tournament, the winner is guaranteed to emerge with three of the four bantamweight titles as well as starting a new lineage for the first time since Venezuelan Bernardo Piñango in the 1980s. Indeed, if the winner of Nordine Oubaali and Tassana Sanpattan’s scrap for the vacant WBC title on June 23rd enters, the undisputed crown would also go up for grabs for the first time since 1972 and the two-belt era when Panamanian Enrique Pinder held the WBA and WBC belts.

For Burnett it’s a chance to become a global star and cement his chance as an all-time Irish great at the tender age of 26. The Belfast fighter already unified titles at the weight but, with an IBF mandatory ordered and a fight already agreed with WBA mandatory Yonfrez Parejo, was forced to vacate the IBF under pressure from then-mandatory Rodriguez – which the Caribbean fighter then picked up versus Paul Butler at the weekend.

This case was one of many examples which showed that, without a format such as the WBSS, governing body politics and promotional demands all too often prevent unifications and the best fighting the best.

Collecting, at least, three of the titles is now a distinct reality for the WBA, IBF, and WBO titleholders and it’s something they are all excited about.

“I have always wanted to be a world champion and to unify the titles against the best opposition out there. Now the World Boxing Super Series allows me to continue my dream against the other champions in the bantamweight division,” Burnett said.

Rodriguez who, like Burnett, won Youth Olympic gold in 2010, sang off a similar hymn sheet.

“I am very happy to be in the tournament. It is great to be able to fight against two other world champions and get the chance to unify the belts. I will do my best to win the tournament.”

Tete, who along with promoter Frank Warren, has spent the best part of a year calling for a fight with Burnett, is delighted to finally have the chance to prove he is the best bantamweight in the world.

“I would like to thank the World Boxing Super Series for the opportunity, I am very humbled and honoured to enter the tournament. This is the opportunity I have been looking for; to show that I am the best in my division.”

Speaking about the second series of the contest Comosa’s Chief Boxing Officer, Kalle Sauerland said that “We are delighted to have three champions agreed to go into the Bantamweight tournament.”

“Burnett, Rodriguez and Tete represent three continents, they represent what the World Boxing Super Series is all about and we cannot wait to see these amazing athletes compete for the Muhammad Ali Trophy.”


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