Dave McWater, the manager of junior welterweight world titlist Ivan Baranchyk, was as surprised as anyone when he read a news release on Friday from the World Boxing Super Series with comments from Baranchyk's trainer, Pedro Diaz, discussing his pupil's preparation for a tournament semifinal bout against Josh Taylor.
Why was McWater so surprised? Because Baranchyk withdrew from the tournament a month ago.
While McWater said Baranchyk is in the gym regularly training with Diaz in Miami, Florida, because he treats boxing like a full-time job, he is not specifically training to fight Taylor (14-0, 12 KOs) in a semifinal fight that had been scheduled for May 18 at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland, Taylor's home country.
"We're mad as hell about that release. It's just horses---," McWater told ESPN. "We have adamantly told (tournament owner Comosa AG) that we are no longer in the tournament. Out of respect for them we haven't made any statements but then they called our trainer, Pedro. Woke up him and just started asking him questions about Ivan's training. Pedro is Ivan's trainer but he is not involved in the business side of things. It was just a horses---, a bush-league move by them.
"All the problems with the tournament, they have brought them on themselves because they don't do things the right way and this is emblematic of it."
Baranchyk won a vacant 140-pound title by seventh-round knockout of Anthony Yigit on Oct. 27 in New Orleans in the quarterfinals of the eight-man tournament that is part of the World Boxing Series' second season, which consists of three tournaments, at cruiserweight, junior welterweight and bantamweight.
But Baranchyk (19-0, 12 KOs), a 26-year-old who was born in Russia, and McWater made the decision to withdraw from the tournament over financial issues, including late payments, and a lack of communication from tournament officials as well as unhappiness about being forced to fight in Glasgow, where Taylor also got to fight his quarterfinal fight.
The World Boxing Super Series has been beset by financial problems in its second season and has had issues paying purses as well as bonus money to fighters and was sometimes weeks late making payments to fighters, managers and promoters. Because of that, the semifinals, which were contractually supposed to take place between January and March, are now slated to take place between April 27 and June 15.
McWater said he has been talking to Comosa AG chief boxing officer Kalle Sauerland, who McWater said requested an in-person meeting.
"We said, sure, we'll give you a meeting as soon as you stop threatening us with legal action but they keep threatening us even though they are the ones who have breached the contract," he said.
The World Boxing Series continues to tout Baranchyk-Taylor as being scheduled for May 18 along with a bantamweight semifinal in the co-feature between world titleholder Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-0, 12 KOs), of Puerto Rico, and secondary titlist Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15 KOs), of Japan.
"At no point have we ever told them we are back in the tournament so for them to send out announcements that Ivan is fighting in the tournament is just ridiculous," McWater said.
Sauerland declined to comment to ESPN. At the time of Baranchyk's withdraw a month ago, a Comosa AG spokesperson told ESPN that 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."
There is supposed to be another semifinal doubleheader on April 27 at a United States site to be determined with junior welterweight titlist Kiryl Relikh (23-2, 19 KOs), of Belarus, defending his belt against New Orleans native Regis Prograis (23-0, 19 KOs) with a bantamweight world title unification fight between Nonito Donaire (39-5, 25 KOs), of Las Vegas, and Zolani Tete (28-3, 21 KOs), of South Africa, in the co-feature.
The cruiserweight semifinals are scheduled for June 15 in Riga, Latvia, where hometown hero and former world titlist Mairis Briedis (25-1, 18 KOs) is scheduled to fight interim titlist Krzysztof Glowacki (31-1, 19 KOs), of Poland, and former titlist Yunier Dorticos (23-1, 21 KOs), a Cuban defector living in Miami, will fight Las Vegas-based Andrew Tabiti (17-0, 13 KOs).