This month, 9 March, the World Boxing Super Series was officially unveiled at a press conference in New York City five years ago.
Check out some of The Greatest stories about WBSS from our two first seasons of the quest for the Muhammad Ali Trophy.
1. Blessings from the GOAT
The Muhammad Ali Trophy is also known as the Greatest Prize in Boxing and it is being awarded to the winner of each weight class of the World Boxing Super Series. Ali gave his blessings to the WBSS when the foundation was laid for the tournament and agreed to give his name to its prize created by the late world-renowned artist Silvio Gazzaniga who also designed the iconic FIFA World Cup Trophy.
2. The WBSS is synonymous with Greatness
All five winners of the Muhammad Ali Trophy – Aleksandr Usyk, Callum Smith, Josh Taylor, Naoya Inoue, and Mairis Briedis – also took home the prestigious Ring Magazine Belt after their respective finals. The Ring began awarding world championship belts in 1922, and the belt signifies the wearer as the very best fighter in the division.
3. Usyk and Ali were born on the same date
Muhammad Ali and Aleksandr Usyk are both born on January 17. So who other than Usyk became the first ever to raise to Muhammad Ali Trophy on July 21st, 2018. No other than Ali’s widow, Lonnie Ali, presented the trophy to Usyk after the final against Murat Gassiev in Moscow. A final witnessed by a WBSS record crowd of 24,000. “It is no secret that Muhammad Ali is my biggest idol so this is a great honour,” said Usyk.
Usyk paid tribute to Ali in various ways. For example:
4. Multiple Awards
Fights and fighters of WBSS have won multiple awards and recognition. For example:
* The ‘Sports Event of the Year’ award by Riga City Council for the enthralling Cruiserweight Semi-Final between Aleksandr Usyk and Mairis Briedis on January 27, 2018, in front of 10,000 fans in Latvia’s capital.
The 2019 consensus Fight of the Year, the WBSS Bantamweight Final between Naoya Inoue and Nonito Donaire also known as ‘The Drama in Saitama’ in which millions of viewers and 22,000 fans inside the arena were treated with ‘a bedazzling showcase of boxing at its finest’ as Boxing News wrote.
5. WBSS Inspires Inoue’s GOAT ambition
Inoue, the Japanese superstar, showed why is called Monster with his devastating Quarter- and Semi-final KO wins in Season II of the WBSS. His total fight time in the tournament before the final against Donaire was jaw-dropping 5 minutes and 29 seconds, and neither Juan Carlos Payano nor Emmanuel Rodriguez had ever been dropped before.
Naoya Inoue said before the final with reference to Muhammad Ali: “I would like to be victorious, but I’m not stopping there. In the future, I want to be the Greatest of all Time!”
Muhammad Ali Trophy winners:
Season I: Aleksandr Usyk (Cruiserweight), Callum Smith (Super-Middleweight)
Season II: Josh Taylor (Super-Lightweight), Naoya Inoue (Bantamweight), Mairis Briedis (Cruiserweight)