When World Boxing Super Series organizers put together the first season’s eight-man cruiserweight tournament, former world titlist Krzysztof Glowacki was the one fighter in the division who was left out of the mix that many believed deserved a spot in the field.
Glowacki had dethroned long-reigning titleholder Marco Huck by 11th-round knockout in a fantastic fight of the year contender in 2015 and has only one loss — a decision that cost him the belt against Oleksandr Usyk in September 2016.
Huck was invited to participate in the tournament, but Glowacki was not.
Huck was quickly eliminated. Usyk, on the other hand, who was given the top seed, ran the table and emerged as the undisputed champion of the 200-pound division when he outpointed Murat Gassiev in the final in July.
When the second season of the World Boxing Super Series was starting to come together, organizers went back to the cruiserweight well for one of the three tournaments — and this time, Glowacki was invited to participate.
Glowacki will open his tournament slate in a quarterfinal matchup against Maksim Vlasov, whom he will meet for a vacant interim world title, on Saturday (DAZN, 8 p.m. ET). The fight takes place at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, where Poland native Glowacki will be the heavy crowd favorite against his Russian challenger.
The Glowacki-Vlasov winner will advance to the semifinals to square off with the winner of Saturday night’s quarterfinal co-feature between former world titlist (and first-season participant) Mairis Briedis, of Latvia, and Germany’s Noel Mikaelian.
Glowacki (30-1, 19 KOs) and Vlasov (42-2, 25 KOs), both 32, each said that they have studied the other man meticulously in advance of their fight.
“I’ve watched a lot of his fights together with my coach and we have tactics ready,” Glowacki said. “Of course, he does have a lot of weak points but he also has a lot of strengths. But I’m not focused on him, really. I don’t care what he does, what he eats or whether he sleeps a lot. I’m mostly interested in myself and what I do. Because I know that if I give everything, I’ll win.
“What am I bringing to the tournament? My faith for the most part, my faith that I’m going to win and I know there can only be one champion.”
Vlasov enters this tournament riding a 12-fight winning streak, with his last loss coming in a competitive 10-round decision in January 2015 to Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez, who went on to win a super middleweight world title. Vlasov’s only other defeat came by 10-round decision to longtime light heavyweight contender Isaac Chilemba, whom Vlasov knocked down, in 2011.
“I know a lot about my opponent Krzysztof Glowacki,” Vlasov said. “I watched many of his fights. He is a difficult and dangerous boxer. He is a fighter who can shoot at any moment and one always needs to watch him and stay focused. At this stage of my career, this fight against Glowacki is key. It’s either do or die.”
Briedis (24-1, 18 KOs), 33, lost to Usyk by majority decision in a unification fight in the semifinals of the first season of the World Boxing Super Series. He is back for another shot at winning the Muhammad Ali Trophy that will go to the tournament victor.
“I’ve been given a second chance,” Briedis said. “I want to use this second opportunity and I am going to use it. Each one of us in the tournament is different. Everyone is a tough opponent. It’s a very big test for myself, both physically and psychologically. But I am back in this tournament to win it.”
He will have to get through Mikaelian (23-1, 10 KOs), 28, formerly known as Noel Gevor, to advance.
“The quarterfinal against Briedis — it is going to be a tough fight,” said Mikaelian, the only one of the four featured fighters on Saturday’s card who will be boxing in the United States for the first time. “He is the favorite. He is a really good fighter. He has a good school, the Soviet school, punching power. He is also a thinker, but I think I am the smarter one.
“I will do what is necessary to win — hit and not get hit. That is boxing to me and how boxing should be.”
The other semifinal will pit former world titlist and first-season semifinalist Yunier Dorticos (23-1, 21 KOs), 32, a Cuban defector fighting out of Miami, against Floyd Mayweather-promoted Andrew Tabiti (17-0, 13 KOs), 29, of Las Vegas. Tabiti won a unanimous decision over Ruslan Fayfer in their Oct. 13 quarterfinal fight in Ekaterinburg, Russia, and Dorticos did the same against Mateusz Masternak on Oct. 20 in Orlando, Florida.