Seeds, brackets set for WBSS junior welterweight, bantamweight tournaments

The seeds were handed out and the brackets determined for the eight-man World Boxing Super Series junior welterweight and bantamweight tournaments at the draft gala Friday at the Rossiya Theatre in Moscow.

With all 16 competitors on hand for the event -- which took place on the eve of the cruiserweight final of the first season of the World Boxing Super Series, with Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev set to meet for the undisputed world title -- Regis Prograis was awarded the top seed in the 140-pound tournament and world titleholder Ryan Burnett was given the No. 1 seed in the 118-pound tournament.

Four seeds were awarded in each division. The seeded boxers selected their quarterfinal opponent from the unseeded fighters, with the exception of some predetermined quarterfinal bouts that are mandatory fights.

Prograis (22-0, 19 KOs), 29, a southpaw who fights out of Houston, selected former lightweight titlist Terry Flanagan as his opening-round opponent in a tournament in which two world titles will be at stake as well as the Muhammad Ali Trophy when the event begins in the fall.

"We are fighting for the Ali trophy, and Ali is a legend. He fought the best of the best, and I want to fight the best of the best," Prograis said. "Flanagan is a former world champion, and that's why I made this decision."

Flanagan (33-1, 13 KOs), a 29-year-old southpaw from England, also is viewed by many as the weakest link in the field, as he has had just one fight at junior welterweight and is coming off a June 9 decision loss to Maurice Hooker for a vacant world title.

"You have to fight the best to win the tournament, and I am here to win the tournament. I am confident in winning this fight," Flanagan said.

Prograis' pick of Flanagan left No. 2 seed Josh Taylor (13-0, 11 KOs), 27, of Scotland, to be paired with Ryan Martin (22-0, 12 KOs), 25, of Cleveland, because the other two bouts are mandatory fights.

"I am here to win this tournament, so it doesn't matter who I face in the first round," Taylor said. "My boxing brain, speed and power, I believe, will give me the edge over my opponents in this tournament."

Martin, a stablemate of middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, was also confident.

"This is what I have been preparing my whole career for," Martin said. "Josh is clearly one of the best in the division, so I'm excited."

World titleholder Kiryl Relikh (22-2, 19 KOs), 28, of Belarus, the No. 3 seed, will make his first defense, a mandatory, against former titlist Eduard Troyanovsky (27-1, 24 KOs), 38, of Russia.

"I am looking forward to the fight. I want to win this tournament," Relikh said. "The winner will become a superstar in the game."

Troyanovsky will be going for his second world title.

"I am very happy to take part in the tournament and I feel confident in beating Kiryl," he said. "I am ready to take his belt."

No. 4 Ivan Baranchyk (18-0, 11 KOs), 25, of Russia, will face Anthony Yigit (21-0-1, 7 KOs), 26, of Sweden, for a vacant world title.

"I am ready to fight and I will win this belt," Baranchyk said. "I show everyone that I am the best in the division."

Said Yigit: "It's a great opportunity for me to show everyone what I am going up for. I want to entertain the crowd and I will take this home."

In the bantamweight tournament, No. 1 Burnett (19-0, 9 KOs), 26, of Northern Ireland, picked former four-division world titleholder Nonito Donaire as his quarterfinal foe.

"He has been an amazing champion and he is a great fighter. I believe Nonito can bring out the best in me," said Burnett, who will defend his belt for the second time.

Donaire (38-5, 24 KOs), 35, a Philippines native fighting out of Las Vegas, will be moving down two weight classes to a division he once dominated but has not boxed in since 2011.

"I know that Ryan's got what it takes, so I am going to be at my best," Donaire said.

Secondary world titlist Naoya Inoue (16-0, 14 KOs), 25, of Japan, who is a three-division titleholder, secured the No. 2 seed and elected to face former titlist Juan Carlos Payano (20-1, 9 KOs), 34, a southpaw from the Dominican Republic.

"It is an honor to be able to participate, so I am excited. I am very confident that I will win this tournament," said Inoue, who will be making his first defense.

Payano has won three fights in a row since losing his world title in to Rau'shee Warren in June 2016.

"I am excited to fight Inoue and I am going for the win," he said.

World titleholder Zolani Tete (27-3, 21 KOs), a 30-year-old southpaw from South Africa, will make his third defense against Russian prospect Mikhail Aloyan (4-0, 4 KOs), a 29-year-old southpaw.

"I am looking forward to fighting the best fighters, and the best fighters are here," Tete said.

Aloyan was the last fighter picked for the tournament field. He turned pro in May 2017 and is in based on his standout amateur credentials: two-time world amateur champion, a European amateur title and a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

"I am very proud that I have such an opportunity fight the best fighters in this tournament. I feel very confident that I have what it takes," he said.

World titleholder Emmanuel Rodriguez (18-0, 12 KOs), 25, of Puerto Rico, received the No. 4 seed and will make his first defense against mandatory challenger Jason Moloney (17-0, 14 KOs), 27, of Australia.

"I am happy for this fight and confident in defending my belt," Rodriguez said. "I will do my best to win the tournament."

Said Moloney: "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."

There will be a third tournament in a division to be announced in the World Boxing Super Series second season. All three tournaments will air on the new DAZN all-sports streaming service, which is scheduled to launch in the United States on Sept. 10.