Dave McWater, the manager for junior welterweight world titleholder Ivan Baranchyk, told ESPN on Wednesday that the fighter is withdrawing from the World Boxing Super Series tournament because they are frustrated over financial issues they have with tournament organizers and a lack of communication over when and where the semifinals -- which have already been delayed -- are supposed to take place.
"We are definitely pulling out. Ivan was supposed to fight [Josh] Taylor in Glasgow [Scotland] in late May. That was what I was hearing, but they haven't spoken to any of us, not me, not [co-promoter] Lou [DiBella]."
McWater echoed what several others involved in the tournament have said -- that they were made to wait for payment for their quarterfinal bout and received what they were contractually owed only after threatening litigation.
"We got the purse for the quarterfinals but we had to wait about two months for the win bonus that Ivan was owed, and we didn't get it until after we had to threaten them," McWater said. "They paid us late and now they are refusing to put the money in escrow for the semifinals until the fight. They won't even put part of the money in escrow."
Several fighter camps complained about late payments or not being paid at all funds that were owed to them during the WBSS second season as Comosa AG, the company that owns the tournament, struggled to meet its obligations when one or more of its investors failed to deliver their share.
"We feel like they are not going to be able to pay us," McWater said. "They're not willing to negotiate putting money in escrow in a timely fashion. We don't believe the fight will happen anyway and we're burning daylight. Ivan is missing fights. We're incredibly disappointed because we wanted this tournament to work so badly. We are not pulling out because we have some other plan, but I feel confident somebody will make us an offer.
"Ivan has a world title, so I don't expect us to sit around. This kid looks at his boxing as a 9-to-5 job. He trains every single day. How do you tell him there are all these delays because they don't have the money?"
McWater said he would not be surprised if there was litigation over Baranchyk's withdrawal but "I think we win. We may end up in court. We are the injured party and were more than fair with them. They are the ones in breach of their contract."
A Comosa AG spokesperson told ESPN, "We have not received any notice of Ivan Baranchyk pulling out of the tournament. Ivan Baranchyk was paid a very large sum to challenge for a vacant title and the WBSS and its shareholders have invested hugely into its brand. Its contracts are watertight and any failure to meet them will be met with the very hardest of consequences. This applies to all fighters and also to promoters, managers and agents alike."
DiBella, who co-promotes Baranchyk (19-0, 12 KOs), a 26-year-old who was born in Russia but fought most of his career in the United States, with Tony Holden and Fight Promotions, said he is not a party to the tournament contract but supported the decision to pull out.
"I understand the decision that was made by Ivan and Dave McWater. They're extremely frustrated and had a number of significant concerns about continuing in the WBSS," DiBella said. "As Ivan's co-promoter, I reached out to the WBSS to convey their concerns and provide them with an opportunity to give comfort to Ivan and to provide specifics with respect to the next round of the tournament and the final, as well as comfort with respect to the money presently being there to meet their obligations. But a number of phone calls were not returned and a substantive letter sent last week was not replied to."
DiBella is also junior welterweight semifinalist Regis Prograis' promoter and said that Prograis' continued participation in the tournament is up in the air.
"Regis' future in the tournament has to be determined by Regis and his management, Churchill Boxing," he said. "As with Ivan, DiBella Entertainment is not in contractual privity with the World Boxing Super Series."
The World Boxing Super Series first season, which consisted of eight-man tournaments in the cruiserweight and super middleweight divisions and was announced as having $50 million in overall prize money, went off with no issues other than minor injuries to finalists that delayed the final bouts for a couple of months and the inability to land an American television deal, although Comosa AG made a deal with DAZN to stream the second season.
The second season, which includes eight-man tournaments in the super middleweight, junior welterweight and bantamweight tournaments, ran as scheduled for the quarterfinals despite some payment issues. But the semifinal rounds were contractually due to take place between January and March and none have been scheduled yet, though promoter Kalle Sauerland, the Comosa AG chief boxing officer, recently told ESPN the schedule of dates and sites would be unveiled any day and that the semifinals would commence in May.
Beside Baranchyk-Taylor, the other junior welterweight semifinal is supposed to be between world titleholder Kiryl Relikh and Prograis. The bantamweight semifinals are due to match Zolani Tete and Nonito Donaire in a world title unification fight and titlist Emmanuel Rodriguez against secondary titlist Naoya Inoue. The cruiserweight semifinals are supposed to pit former world titleholders Mairis Briedis and Krzysztof Glowacki in one fight and former titleholder Yunier Dorticos against Andrew Tabiti in the other.