The draw for season two of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) has been announced after WBA bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett 19-0 (9) of Northern Ireland was installed as the number one seed in the 118-pound tournament.
The number two seed behind the 26-year-old from Belfast is Japan’s WBA “regular” titleholder Naoya Inoue 16-0 (14), the number three seed is WBO champion Zolani Tete 27-3 (21) of South Africa and the number four seed is newly-minted IBF champion Emmanuel Rodriguez 18-0 (12) of Puerto Rico.
In the quarter-finals Burnett will defend his WBA title against former four-division titleholder Nonito Donaire 38-5 (24) in what will be the 35-year-old Filipino-American’s first fight at bantamweight in almost seven years.
“He has been an amazing champion and he is a great fighter. I believe Nonito can bring out the best in me,” said Burnett.
Donaire is coming off a twelve round unanimous decision loss to WBO interim featherweight champion Carl Frampton in Belfast in April.
“I am very excited. I know that Ryan got what it takes so I am going to be at my best,” said Donaire.
Former junior flyweight and super flyweight world titleholder and number two seed Inoue has been matched with former world titleholder Juan Carlos Payano 20-1 (9) of Miami, Florida by way of La Vega in the Dominican Republic.
“It is an honour to be able to participate so I am excited. I am very confident that I will win this tournament,” said the 25-year-old Inoue, who goes by the nickname the “Monster”.
Payano, 34, said: “I am excited to fight Inoue and I am going for the win!”
In a battle of southpaws, number three seed Tete will meet former amateur star Mikhail Aloyan 4-0 of Russia. The two-time world amateur champion at flyweight was a bronze medallist at the 2012 London Olympics and won silver four years later at Rio before being disqualified for testing positive for the banned substance tuaminoheptane.
“I am looking forward to fighting the best fighters and the best fighters are here. I am looking forward to fight Mikhail,” said Tete, 30, who will defend his WBO title.
“I am very proud that I have such an opportunity fight the best fighters in this tournament,” said the 29-year-old Aloyan. “I feel very confident that I have what it takes.”
Number four seed Rodriguez, who won the vacant IBF title against Paul Butler at London’s O2 Arena in May, will defend his strap against mandatory challenger Jason Moloney 17-0 (14) of Australia.
“I am happy for this fight and confident in defending my belt. I will do my best to win the tournament,” said the 25-year-old Rodriguez.
The 27-year-old Moloney said: “I am very confident that I can beat Emmanuel. He is a very good fighter as everyone in this tournament is. This is my time to shine. I’m ready!”
The quarter-finals for the World Boxing Super Series will take places at various venues around the globe starting in September. The winner of the WBSS will be awarded the coveted Muhammad Ali trophy.