Monday, September 25, 2023  |



World Boxing Super Series season two to feature the very best at bantamweight

Zolani Tete. Photo courtesy of Action Images / Craig Brough
Fighters Network

The little guys will have their chance to shine on a global platform.

Eight 118-pound fighters will vie for bantamweight supremacy when the World Boxing Super Series’ second installment kicks off this fall.

Among the fighters set to enter the field: Naoya Inoue, Zolani Tete, Emmanuel Rodriguez and Ryan Burnett, a source told THE RING.

Inoue (15-0, 13 knockouts) will make his bantamweight debut on May 25 against Jamie McDonnell, and the Japanese star must come out on top to gain entrance. With the fight pending, he isn’t expected to be among the names revealed at Wednesday’s WBSS news conference in London.

Once he’s officially in the mix, “The Monster” will be pegged as favorite to win the Muhammad Ali trophy. He’s THE RING’s No. 7 pound-for-pound fighter, and one of the sport’s truly special talents. He’s been a tour de force through 15 pro fights, but now he must prove himself in a new weight class, and there’s some worthy competition for him to contend with.

Tete (27-3-0, 21 KOs) is THE RING’s No. 1 bantamweight and the WBO titleholder. The hard-punching South African is a slick left-hander who carries speed and power.

Burnett, too, has impressed of late. The former unified titleholder is undefeated in 19 fights with nine wins coming inside the distance. The boxer from Belfast made his HBO debut last year with a points victory over Zhanat Zhakiyanov.

Rodriguez (18-0, 12 KOs) picked up the vacant IBF title relinquished by Burnett with a win over Paul Butler on Saturday. The 25-year-old Puerto Rican is rated No. 4 by THE RING, meaning the tournament will boast the four best 118-pounders in the world.

Burnett is rated No. 3, and McDonnell, who is to face Inoue in Japan, is rated No. 2. The Englishman is a decided underdog, and Inoue is likely to claim his ranking after the fight, if not the top spot.

Much like the cruiserweight tournament that’s set to wrap up with the finals between Murat Gassiev and Oleksandr Usyk, it looks like division supremacy will truly be on the line in the bantamweight field.