New Delhi:A new chapter was added to the annals of Indian boxing with the country becoming one of the four Asian franchisees in the high-profile World Series of Boxing (WSB) slated for September next year.
"Yes, India is one of the eight franchisees that have selected by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) so far," WSB Chief Operating Officer Ivan Khodabakhsh revealed in an interview from AIBA headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
"Four more franchisees remain to be picked and for that I would soon be travelling to America. By July, the whole process would be over and the details of the selected franchisees will be revealed," said Khodabakhsh, also the AIBA Sports Director.
He, however, refused to divulge the name of the corporate house that has obtained the Indian franchise. Khodabakhsh also didn't reveal the other three Asian franchisees that were picked in a meeting held earlier this month.
A total of 12 city-based franchisees - four each from Asia, America and Europe and worth $10 million - will fight it out in an inter-continental series that borrows heavily from professional boxing.
Each franchisee will have a team of at least 10 boxers with a maximum of three foreign imports in it. The franchisees will also get a pool of reserve boxers.
"We are currently negotiating the terms of agreement with the franchisees that have been picked, including India. This is a very sensitive stage of discussion so no further details can be given as of now. We will make a large-scale public announcement soon after the formalities are completed," said Khodabakhsh.
The boxers' contracts, worth a minimum of $30,000 and a maximum of $300,000, will initially be of three years and they will get fixed salaries apart from bonus for every bout won.
AIBA has so far shortlisted 100 pugilists for the event and the franchisees will take their pick during the this year's World Championships in Milan.
"These 100, picked by the WSB selection panel, also include Indians and AIBA would soon intimate their names to the Indian Boxing Federation. The pool would be increased to 200 very soon so that franchisees have reserves to fall back on in case their frontline boxers are not available for some reasons," Khodabakhsh revealed.
The multi-million dollar league will have specially trained officials to oversee the the bouts that will comprise five rounds of three minutes each.
"There will be a meeting of the AIBA's referees and judges' panel during the World Championships and officials shortlisted for WSB would be trained at the AIBA academy in Canada," Khodabakhsh said.
WSB will be held in three phases - a regular season of league matches between franchise teams, a play-off series and finally individual championships for each weight class.
The championships will feature boxers from only five weight categories - Bantam (54kg), Light (60kg), Middle (75kg), Light Heavy (81kg) and Heavy (91kg).