The official Group Draw for the World Series of Boxing (WSB) Season V took place today in Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, at the International Boxing Association’s (AIBA) Executive Committee Meeting.
Conducted over four stages, the draw for the new season initially confirmed Season IV finalists Cuba Domadores and Azerbaijan Baku Fires as seeds. Both teams will have the advantage of starting and finishing the regular season at home. For this reason they were seeded in position seven which gives this privilege in both groups.
This draw resulted in defending champions Cuba Domadores drawn in Group A and Azerbaijan Baku Fires in Group B.
The second stage of the draw concerned the seeding of the Season IV semi-finalists to ensure they were drawn in different groups, while the third stage determined the group positions of the remaining 12 franchises, with the final stage deciding which weight category should contest the sudden death bout for all play-off matches.
Season V will also see a number of important innovations taking place, including the increase in the number of franchises from 12 to 16. WSB welcomes Morocco and Venezuela into Season V, as well as the return to WSB of a franchise from China, who fielded the Beijing Dragons in Seasons I and II. A remaining candidate, yet to be named, will be unveiled shortly by the WSB. This remaining franchise appears in the Draw Results under the name ‘WSB’.
Some very interesting match-ups were produced as a result of the draw, mixing WSB stalwarts with newcomers to the competition. Group A will see the very first WSB matches for the Moroccan franchise, who were drawn in the same group as North African neighbors Algeria Desert Hawks. Another neighborly draw will see Ukraine Otamans take on Russia Boxing Team in Group A.
Group B will see a match-up between Astana Arlans and Azerbaijan Baku Fires, whose boxers and coaches struck up a friendship last season. The group will also feature the very first WSB match of the Venezuela franchise.
The Season V calendar will see a change in format due to the arrival of the new teams, with the regular season being expanded from ten to 14 weeks.
Advantages in the play-offs, the tournament’s knockout phase, will be given to the best performing teams in the regular season. Only two quarter-finals will be featured, with three top-ranked teams from each group advancing to the play-offs, and the number one ranked teams will go straight through to the semi-finals.
The format of the play-offs will be the same as the finals in previous WSB Seasons: the teams will play in one location at home over two consecutive evenings.
In quarter-final matches, the second ranked teams will have the advantage of hosting these ties at home.
This same format will be applied to the semi-finals, when the top ranked teams from the regular season who qualified directly to the semi-final stage will host the winners of the quarter-finals at home.
Season V of WSB will carry extra significance, with 17 boxers qualifying directly from the competition for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games through the final WSB Individual Boxers Ranking at the end of the regular season.
Those qualifying will be the boxers ranked first and second in categories from Flyweight to Light Heavyweight, and boxers at the top of the rankings at Light Flyweight, Heavyweight and Super Heavyweight.
The number of WSB boxers qualifying for this Olympic Games is significantly different compared to London 2012, where only five boxers were granted a quota place. This is a huge step towards AIBA’s goal of governing the sport of boxing worldwide in all its forms.