SERGEY RABCHENKO says he’s honoured to be made the favourite for the inaugural Jose Sulaiman Memorial World Cup.
It was the late WBC president’s dream to see an eight man tournament take place, but previous plans were postponed due to his failing health.
Now Sampson Lewkowicz has resurrected the concept in honour of the great man and Rabchenko has been selected as one of the participants.
The WBC had ordered a rematch between the 28-year-old Belarusian and Australia’s Anthony Mundine for its Silver title, hoping the fight would make up part of the tournament, but Mundine has turned down the opportunity in order to explore other options.
“It is a huge honour for me to box in the Jose Sulaiman Cup. I was the proud holder of the WBC’s Silver title and I will win another WBC belt in Sulaiman’s memory,” Rabchenko, who is trained by Ricky Hatton, said.
“I want a rematch with Mundine because I believe I won in November, but he doesn’t want to be in the tournament. I think he’s scared of fighting me in a neutral country.
“The judges cost a win in Australia. That’s history now. I’m focused on getting back to full fitness with Ricky Hatton and winning this tournament.
“I thank Sampson Lewkowicz for putting this together and I look forward to breaking three opponents and then getting a world title shot.”
The tournament’s quarter finals will be held in two brackets with WBC number 8 John Jackson facing WBC number 13 Dennis Laurente and Yudel Jhonson squaring off with Jorge Cota.
Rabchenko is in the second bracket and will face Argentina’s Luciano Cuello while unbeaten American Dominique Dalton is set to meet Lukasz Maciec of Poland.
Each participant will receive US$50,000 for appearing the tournament. Those reaching the semi-finals will be paid a further $100,000 and finalists will earn another $200,000, taking their total purses up to $350,000.
Quarter final bouts will consist of ten rounds. The semi-finals and final will be held over 12 under WBC rules.
All fights will be held in Las Vegas, with the quarters taking place in April/May. The semi-finals are scheduled for September and the final will take place in February 2016.