Regis Prograis reaches deal to remain in WBSS; Ivan Baranchyk’s status remains uncertain
The World Boxing Super Series has encountered numerous issues during the second season of their single-elimination tournaments.
Financing problems have led to late payments, a delayed second round and uncertainty concerning the participation of combatants. The tourney was once in danger of falling apart; now that it’s moving ahead, organizers are still facing issues. The Ring reported last month that 140-pound titleholder Ivan Baranchyk withdrew from the tournament amid concerns over the escrow agreement.
Less than 24 hours later, the World Boxing Super Series announced Baranchyk would fight Josh Taylor in a semi-final bout on May 18 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Despite the announcement, there remains no deal to bring Baranchyk back into the fold, industry sources told The Ring, and there’s been no substantial progress made. Regis Prograis, who like Baranchyk is promoted by Lou DiBella, also was contemplating dropping out of the tourney, per sources. It was announced Sunday that Prograis would meet junior welterweight titleholder Kiryl Relikh on April 27 in the United States.
This time, the announcement holds true. A deal was reached to keep the No. 1 seed in the tournament, according to sources; Lafayette, Louisiana, is the front-runner to host the event. Nonito Donaire’s title defense against Zolani Tete, a 118-pound semifinal, will be the co-feature.
A strongly structured escrow agreement was created to satisfy Prograis and alleviate concerns about financing, per sources. The agreement also guarantees that the finals take place no later than October 7, according to sources. The semifinals were scheduled for February or March; many fighters and their teams are unhappy about the delay, which could cost the fighters a cycle of paydays.
Prograis wasn’t pleased with plans for his semifinal bout to take place on May 18 after not fighting since the opening round in October (a stoppage victory over Terry Flanagan). He also wasn’t happy that the bout was going to be on the undercard in Scotland. Now, the burgeoning star will have his own headline event in the U.S., possibly near his native New Orleans.
Even though DiBella promotes both Prograis and Baranchyk, he doesn’t have final say on their participation. WBSS officials engaged in contracts directly with the fighters.
Baranchyk’s status is far more murky. To date, organizers have been unable to reach terms with the Belarus native on a deal to retain his services for the semifinal bout with Taylor. The WBSS is in the process of making contingency plans, should Baranchyk stay on the sideline; one name being discussed to replace Baranchyk is Ricky Burns.
The former three-division titleholder hails from Scotland, just like the man he could face in the semifinal. Taylor-Burns would be a major event in Scotland.
However, Baranchyk’s exclusion would mean one less title up for grabs, and his withdrawal would hurt the integrity of the tournament after he impressed with a seventh-round stoppage of Anthony Yigit in October.
The World Boxing Super Series was a welcome arrival to the sport following the conclusion of its first season. Oleksandr Usyk won the cruiserweight tourney and became Ring champion in the process. Callum Smith claimed The Ring’s vacant super middleweight championship in the culmination of the 168-pound bracket.
Many of the first season’s fights weren’t televised in the U.S; that problem was solved when DAZN picked up the rights to that season’s finals and also the entirety of Season 2, which includes tournaments at 118 pounds, 140 pounds and once again, cruiserweight.
Officials have solved some of the myriad issues facing the WBSS, but Baranchyk still remains at large.
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger