The concept of World Series of Boxing (WSB) was first presented to the boxing family in August 2008 by President, Dr Ching-Kuo Wu. The proposal was met with approval and plans were put in place for this unique competition format. The world’s best boxers, competing in teams, without headguards and using the AIBA Ten Points-Must scoring system, would partake in a global team competition. The origin of WSB marked a new era in the sport of boxing, reuniting the broader boxing world and its grassroots amateur foundation by providing a bridge between Olympic Boxing and a future professional programme within the AIBA family.
WSB is wholly owned by AIBA. All boxers in WSB are registered with AIBA. Furthermore, all officials working at WSB matches are experienced AIBA officials with a collective experience of many years in the field of boxing. National Federations play an important part also in ensuring the best boxers are aware of and available to participate in WSB.
Teams representing franchises across the globe compete in a league format that leads to play-offs and a final. The boxers compete without vests or headguards in 5 three minute rounds; 5 bouts per match; 10-Point-Must-System. During the first 4 seasons 12 teams have competed, however, in Season V there were 16 teams. Seasons I & II also included a programme for individual boxers. In Seasons I & II the franchises were city focused, but from Season III the franchises have developed a national identity. The teams are permitted to have international boxers (a maximum of 8 from Season V with a maximum of 3 boxers of the same nationality). Since Season IV, teams compete in 10 weight categories (identical to AIBA) and the top 4 teams from the regular season (league phase) participated in the play-off series which led to semi-finals on a home and away basis. With 4 additional teams in Season V, the play-off format was structured differently so that the higher ranking teams have had home advantage until the finals. The winner of each group went straight to the semi-finals.
The franchise is responsible for the recruitment of boxers, preparation of the teams and for logistics pertaining to the competition. This involves many different tasks from general management, finances, marketing, events, logistics, promotion, communication, and not least coaching. The franchise is structured under three functions supporting these tasks (business, commercial and competition). This ensures that the day-to-day running of the company is smooth; that major events are delivered in a professional manner suitable for global viewing; and finally, that the recruitment, training and management of boxers is of the highest standard.
In Season I, 12 teams competed in 3 conferences (Asia, Europe and America) during the regular season, with the top team and the best runner up (by points) qualifying for the play-offs. Astana Arlans were matched against Los Angeles Matadors and Baku Fires were up against Paris United. After home and away matches Astana Arlans and Paris United reached the finals hosted in Guiyang, China. After almost 400 bouts of the first season, Paris United won the first ever WSB Team Championship.
For Season II, the competition was divided into two global divisions and brought together over 260 boxers from more than 40 different countries. A total of 73 matches and 370 quality bouts culminated in a close final in the ExCeL Arena, in London. The semi-finals saw Dynamo Moscow up against Astana Arlans with the Russian team coming out on top in the return home leg. Baku Fires took on Dolce & Gabbana Milano Thunder in the other semi, but the Italians had done enough in the first leg. Dolce & Gabbana Milano Thunder prevailed over Dynamo Moscow in the final.
Seasons I & II also saw an Individual Championship where the top 2 boxers who won the most bouts per category competed for the title. From Season I 5 boxers qualified for the Olympics.
In Season III the switch from city based franchises to national franchises delighted fans and increased the excitement surrounding the event considerably. Five new franchises (the Algeria Desert Hawks, Argentina Condors, British Lionhearts, Hussars Poland and Ukraine Otamans) saw WSB enter new boxing markets and run its first events in Africa. The finals between the Ukraine Otamans and Astana Arlans Kazakhstan proved to be the closest fought and most dramatic in WSB history. The action went right down to the wire, with the finals being decided by a tie breaker bout in which Kazakhstan finally overcame their Ukrainian rivals.
In Season IV, the competition entered the Caribbean market by welcoming the biggest boxing nation in history, Cuba, represented by the Domadores. Of historical note also was the fact that professional style boxing was permitted in Cuba after 70 years. For the second consecutive year, the final reached the tiebreaker fight before crowning the Caribbean nation as the new WSB Champions in their debut season in the competition, beating Azerbaijan Baku Fires in their home country.
Season V has taken the competition to another level, with the returning British Lionhearts and China Dragons adding new depth to WSB, while three Franchises also emerged, as Caciques Venezuela, Morocco Atlas Lions and Puerto Rico Hurricanes all competed superbly across the group stages.
552 bouts and 112 matches of intense boxing action produced the biggest and best Regular Season ever, with 17 winning Olympic Quota places for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in process.
The Rio 2016 qualification system resulted in another step forward for WSB as it produced significance across each and every Regular Season individual fixture, which also added to the importance of the team success as well.
After an amazing Regular Season dominated by Cuba Domadores and Astana Arlans Kazakhstan, both team clashed in two days of Finals in Astana that showed the best world boxing level, where Astana Arlans Kazakhstan defeated Cuba Domadores to become the WSB Season V champions and the first time who crown two times the competition.
WSB has also been very active in the field of social media:
• Over 2 million views of WSB bouts on YouTube
• 250,000 unique visitors to WSB Website annually
• 10% of visitors spend more than 1 hour on our website
• 230,000 Facebook Fans (an increase from 50,000 in Season IV)
• Season V – 320 website articles
• On average 140 press releases annually
National Series of Boxing
The National Series of Boxing (NSB) is a development that could follow a similar format as WSB at a national level. AIBA recognizes that such a project could satisfy the demands of Franchises and National Federations. It could strengthen the grassroots and build a platform for the development of Boxers, Coaches, Officials and Managers of the future.
This entrance door to WSB is also a place where boxing fans could discover the attractiveness and intensity of the competition. Fans could follow the boxer and his/her progression from an early stage and witness the development of the sport in their countries.
By recreating the explosive format, entertainment and attractiveness of WSB at a national level, the NSB could be a new platform of enjoyment for fans and a new opportunity for Franchises and National Federations to attract regional and national broadcasters, sponsors and partners to invest in the sport.