New York (AFP) - Organizers of a new $50 million boxing tournament unveiled plans Thursday for the World Boxing Super Series, a September-to-May event with two weight classes of fighters chasing the Muhammad Ali Trophy.
While developers were hopeful of a Champions League-style event, using top talent to produce global attention and an ultimate winner, they have no deals with promoters or fighters and aren't certain what divisions will be featured when brackets are revealed in June.
"The goal, really, is to try to attract at least two champions from each weight class," said Richard Schaefer, chairman of the event, with past champions and rising young stars planned to complete the ideal bracket.
Advanced talks were underway with US telecaster Showtime, Schaefer said, but a final deal would depend on the weight classes involved.
Welterweights offer some of the sport's biggest names, such as Manny Pacquiao, Keith Thurman, Kell Brook and Amir Khan. But don't expect that star-studded lineup.
"A year ago... I felt the proper class to take would be the welterweights," Schaefer said. "Today it's a little bit different. They sort of have a tournament already. I don't think the welterweights would be a class we'd be looking at.
"We want to focus on weight classes that might have been a bit ignored... I could see a 154-pound weight class. I could see a cruiserweight class. I want to see what comes back to see what would be the best."
That might scale back the Champions League aspirations to Stoke City or Eintracht Frankfurt levels rather than the Bayern Munichs and Barcelonas of the boxing world.
Still, the junior middleweight (154-pound) realm offers Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, unbeaten US twins Jermall and Jermell Charlo and former Cuban amateur star Erislandy Lara.
The cruiserweight ranks have England's Tony Bellew, Ukraine's Oleksandr Usyk, Russia's unbeaten Murat Gassiev and Poland's Krzysztof Glowacki.
Fighters ranked among the top 15 by at least one of the four largest global sanctioning bodies would compete.
The inaugural season will feature two weight classes, which along with the boxers involved will be revealed in June at a "Draft Gala" in which four top-seeded rivals will select their quarter-final foes from the other fighters.
That would set the stage for quarter-final bouts next September and October, semi-finals next January and February and championship bouts in May 2018, with fights staged mainly in US and European venues, each headlining a card of its own.
Prize money would be divided among all fighters with higher payouts going to winners, the biggest of all to the eventual champion.
Berlin-based Sauerland Promotions, Swedish media company Modern Times Group and Swiss-based event marketing firm Highlight Event and Entertainment have united behind the project as Swiss-registered Comosa AG.