The WBSS is gaining more interest as we move into the semifinals starting in early 2018. The cruiserweight tournament now stands at an extremely high level of prestige with all world champions retaining their belts and putting them on the line again for a chance to become the undisputed world champion.
The British attention turns to the super middleweight tournament; where the eye is kept on the mouth-watering domestic dust-up between WBA Super champion George Groves and IBO champion Chris Eubank Jr. The other semifinal features former light heavyweight champion Juergen Braehmer and WBC Diamond belt holder Callum Smith. The excitement differs from the cruiserweight tournament because of the lack of belts.
Where are the champions?
James DeGale (IBF) attempted to unify against Badou Jack in January and has since been out of action to have surgery on his arm, ruling him out from the WBSS. Gilberto Ramirez (WBO) defended against American Jesse Hart in September; taking his 0 in the process. David Benavidez picked up the vacant WBC crown in September against Ronald Gavril and being knocked down in the 12th round to do so.
Recently announced were the opponents of DeGale and Ramirez for their December and February defences respectively. Caleb Truax will make his second world title attempt with a 28-3-2 (18 KOs) record. DeGale stated that he wanted an opponent to test out his arm in an IFL interview. An opponent essentially to make him look good and clear any ring rust to lead him on to bigger fights. The issue with this fight is that there isn’t much of a profile and with no disrespect to Caleb Truax, the fans would have liked to see someone ranked higher. Potentially, there will be bigger fights and unifications in 2018 for DeGale as well as stating he wanted the winner of the WBSS.
Gilberto Ramirez now has an impressive record of 36-0 (24 KOs) and will make the third defence of his title against Habib Ahmed; who is ranked #6 by the WBO and currently 98th in the world by Boxrec. Ramirez seems ready to unify and give himself bigger tests. Ahmed who has never fought outside of Ghana will take his first step up in class and under the big lights which leaves it feeling as a complete mismatch. It’s a disappointing fight when you consider the action that could be happening in the WBSS with Ramirez in it.
David Benavidez remains undefeated after getting up from the canvas and pushing forward to a points victory to claim the WBC world title. With DeGale and Ramirez busy, Benavidez has no chance to unify if he wanted to. His last performance showed he belonged at world level and didn’t seem to struggle at any point, even with the knockdown.
The attention has turned to the WBSS and those champions outside should act quickly to make their own statements. Ramirez and DeGale with their upcoming fights could be on the same path to unify around the same time of the WBSS final. That is the goal for fans, to have the winner of the WBSS go the extra mile and hunt down after the other belts, as after all the tournament will decide who the best in the division really is.
The action from the WBSS resumes in January with dates and venues to be announced soon. Are you excited about the semi-finals? Which one are you looking forward to most?