Former world titleholders Mairis Briedis and Yunier "The KO Doctor" Dorticos, who both advanced to the semifinals of the World Boxing Super Series first-season cruiserweight tournament earlier this year, will be back in the hunt for the Muhammad Ali Trophy in the second season.
Briedis and Dorticos were among the eight second-season participants unveiled by tournament organizers Wednesday for the single-elimination tournament that will kick off in October and is scheduled to wrap up next summer.
The quarterfinal bouts were also announced with the top four fighters being seeded. Fight sites and dates are to be announced.
No. 1 seed Briedis (24-1,18 KOs), of Latvia, will face Germany's Noel Mikaelian (23-1, 10 KOs), of Germany; No. 2 Dorticos (22-1, 21 KOs), a Cuban defector fighting out of Miami, Florida, will meet Mateusz Masternak (41-4, 28 KOs), of Poland; No. 3 Krzysztof Glowacki (30-1, 19 KOs), a former world titlist from Poland, will square off with Maksim Vlasov (42-2, 25 KOs), of Russia; and
No. 4 Ruslan Fayfer (23-0, 16 KOs), of Russia, will take on Floyd Mayweather-promoted Andrew Tabiti (16-0, 13 KOs), a Chicago native fighting out of Las Vegas.
"We have an amazing lineup with eight worthy challengers that rival last season's sensational quality," promoter Kalle Sauerland, the chief boxing officer for tournament owner Comosa AG. "Cruiserweight is one of the most exciting divisions. Just look at last season's unbelievable matchups. So we are looking forward to a new season."
The second-season cruiserweight lineup, however, is far inferior to the inaugural tournament, which featured all four major world titleholders and culminated with Oleksandr Usyk winning a unanimous decision over Murat Gassiev on July 21 in Moscow to become the undisputed world champion and only the fourth fighter (and the first cruiserweight) of the four-belt era to unify all of them.
Briedis, 33, outpointed Mike Perez in the quarterfinals of the first-season tournament and then lost a majority decision and his belt in a unification fight to Usyk in the first-season semifinals in January. Mikaelian, 27, former known as Noel Gevor, suffered his only loss by split decision in a world title eliminator to former titlist Krzysztof Wlodarczyk in May 2017 and has won his only fight since.
Dorticos, 32, opened the first-season tournament last September with a crushing third-round knockout of Dmitri Kudryashov in the quarterfinals before losing his title by 12th-round knockout to Gassiev in an action-packed unification fight in February. Masternak, 31, is a former European cruiserweight champion. He has won five fights in a row since losing a decision to former world titlist Tony Bellew in December 2015.
Glowacki, 31, a southpaw, held a world title from 2015 to 2016. His 11th-round knockout of Marco Huck to win the belt was a strong fight 2015 fight of the year contender. Glowacki made one successful defense against former titlist Steve Cunningham before losing the belt to Usyk in September 2016. Since then, Glowacki has won four fights in a row, including three by knockout. Vlasov, 31, is unbeaten as a cruiserweight. He has won 12 fights in a row since moving up to the 200-pound division following a 10-round unanimous decision loss to Gilberto "Zurdo" Ramirez, who went on to win a super middleweight world title.
Fayfer, 27, is unbeaten but has yet to face a top opponent and will be taking a major step up in competition against Tabiti, 28, who scored his biggest win last August when he outpointed Cunningham over 10 rounds on the Mayweather-Conor McGregor undercard. In his last fight, on May 11, he knocked out fringe contender Lateef Kayode in the sixth round.