The World Boxing Super Series, which has been hampered by serious financial issues and the prospect of having No. 1 junior welterweight seed Regis Prograis pull out of the tournament, has worked out a deal to keep him in and scheduled his semifinal bout against world titlist Kiryl Relikh.
They will meet on April 27 (DAZN) at a United States site to be determined on a card that will also include the bantamweight semifinal between world titleholders Nonito Donaire and Zolani Tete, who will meet in a unification fight, the World Boxing Super Series announced Sunday.
“He is staying in. We worked out an arrangement where we feel comfortable,” Churchill Management’s Sam Katkovski, Prograis’ manager, told ESPN.
The semifinals of the second season of the three World Boxing Super Series tournaments — junior welterweight, bantamweight and cruiserweight — were contractually supposed to take place between January and March. However, Comosa AG, which owns the tournaments, has had financial issues due to at least one of its investors pulling out. The company had problems covering purses, bonus money and other expenses in the quarterfinal stage, prompting junior welterweight Ivan Baranchyk to pull out of his semifinal with Josh Taylor and Prograis to strongly consider it.
But now Prograis is pleased to have worked things out so he can remain part of the field.
“First off, I’m just excited to continue with the tournament,” Prograis said. “It’s the best fighting the best. That’s what boxing should be about. I know Relikh is a tough and strong fighter, and I never look over an opponent, but I have no doubt in my mind that I will win.”
Prograis (23-0, 19 KOs), 30, of Houston, advanced to the semifinals with a one-sided decision victory over former lightweight titleist Terry Flanagan on Oct. 27 in New Orleans, where Prograis is originally from. Relikh (23-2, 19 KOs), 29, of Belarus, retained his 140-pound belt by close unanimous decision over Eduard Troyanovsky in Yokohama, Japan, on Oct. 7.
“I’m looking very much to the semifinal and the quest for the [Muhammad] Ali Trophy,” Relikh said. “When I fight the fans will get the money’s worth. I predict just like all of my fights a win for me.” Four-division world titlist Donaire (39-5, 25 KOs), 36, a Philippines native fighting out of Las Vegas, dropped down from featherweight to join the bantamweight field after having not boxed in the division since 2011. He won another bantamweight world title in the quarterfinals when he defeated Ryan Burnett on Burnett’s turf in Glasgow, Scotland, on Nov. 3 in a fight in which Burnett could not continue after the fourth round because of a freak injury — a torn oblique muscle on his right side.
“WBSS has set up such a great opportunity for me to achieve what I’ve always wanted and that’s to be undisputed champion,” Donaire said. “Since the last fight, I took just a couple weeks off and came right back to the gym. Tete is a formidable opponent and we have been preparing since the last fight. I’m even more excited with it being in the U.S. and won’t waste the opportunity to show the crowd what we’ve been working on.”
Tete (28-3, 21 KOs), 30, of South Africa, retained his title for the third time in the quarterfinals when he traveled to Ekaterinburg, Russia, and outpointed Russia’s Mikhail Aloyan on Oct. 13.
“Nonito Donaire is a true champion and has had a lot success against my fellow countryman like Moruti Mthalane and Jeffrey Mathebula in the past, but that stops here,” Tete said. “I respect Nonito, but I have a lot of faith in my own boxing ability, and I will come out victorious when we fight.”