The WBA champion’s participation has long been mooted, with promoter Eddie Hearn essentially confirming so ahead of the Antrim Road man’s mandatory defence versus Yonfrez Parejo back in March.
ESPN boxing correspondent Dan Rafael has today reported that Burnett will take his place in the eight-man single-elimination tournament alongside major rival and WBO champ Zolani Tete as well as the sensational-looking new IBF champion Manny Rodriguez.
A press conference in London is scheduled for tomorrow where the three will be announced alongside five of the participants in the light welterweight tournament – WBA champ Kiryl Relikh, WBA mandatory and former IBF champ Eduard Troyanovsky, Regis Prograis, and upcoming IBF vacant title contestants Anthony Yigit and Ivan Baranchyk
The inclusion of South African Tete is a welcome surprise after promoter Frank Warren seemed to dismiss the idea somewhat last month, while Rodriguez looked mightily impressive in claiming the red belt vacated by Burnett with a dominant display against the disgracefully overweight Paul Butler on Saturday night in London
Japanese star Naoya Inoue has also stated his intention to participate having received a preliminary offer, however, ‘The Monster’ must first get through his WBA ‘regular’ title fight with Jamie McDonnell on May 25th. Whoever wins this clash, for which Inoue is a massive favourite, would become mandatory for Burnett’s title and is likely to be a WBSS participant.
The other four participants are expected to be confirmed in the coming weeks, and it is hoped the winner of the June 23rd WBC vacant title fight between Nordine Oubaali and Tassana Sanpattan will enter to allow an undisputed champion to be crowned
Organised by Kalle Sauerland and financially backed by the Comosa Group, the maiden season of the competition is currently ongoing at super middleweight and cruiserweight. A $50,000,000 prize pool – which will apparently decrease somewhat for season two – is being split among the 16 participants and the finals will take place at to-be-confirmed dates and locations this Summer.
The finals will see WBA 168lbs champ George Groves defend his belt v Callum Smith – although rumours are currently circulating that Chris Eubank will take the place of Groves in the decider – while all four cruiser belts will come together when Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev face-off.
Season two is slated to start in September, with four seeded fighters picking their opponents in a draft gala ahead of this. As a world champion, Burnett will be seeded however the Inoue-McDonnell winner may not be and a pre-mandated match-up could occur – much like Relikh v Troyanovsky and Yigit v Baranchyk which are both set to happen in the light welterweight quarter finals.