By Tom Degun

C_K_Wu_Dec_14December 15 - C K Wu (pictured), the International Boxing Association (AIBA) President, has claimed he is extremely happy the World Series of Boxing (WSB) has got off to a successful start.

The new professional global competition that allows competitors not only to retain their Olympic eligibility but also qualify for the Games, is 75 per cent owned by AIBA, and 25 per cent by the world's premier sports, entertainment and media company IMG.

The competition officially got under way last month and Wu, an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, said he is very pleased with what he has seen so far.

"The initial reaction to the World Series of Boxing has been very positive," he said.

"We had anticipated this, since many people were waiting for the competition to start before forming an opinion.

"Now that we have shown the WSB is real and it works, people are starting to take a keen interest.

"The uptake among fans and the media has been excellent."

Wu, from Taiwan, attended the first match of the Beijing Dragons and said he was impressed with the high standard of the competitors.

"It was exciting to see the first competitive WSB boxing," he said.

"I had already seen one test event and an exhibition match during the AIBA Congress in October [in Kazakhstan] but this was the first time the teams were genuinely competing for the championship and the individual boxers were thinking ahead to the possibility of direct qualification for the London 2012 Olympic Games through the individual championships.

"You can see this in the quality of the bouts - the boxers are obliged to come out strong from the start, which makes for excellent bouts and a fantastic match for fans, with five bouts featuring the world's best boxers over two hours of competition.

"There is a very good mix of boxers from all over the world competing in the WSB, so it is interesting to see how some of them have adapted to living in a different country and training with boxers from several countries.

"For the boxers, it is an excellent learning experience.

"Since the boxing squads change for every match, the teams will need a certain amount of time to establish themselves within their respective conferences, so it's too early to talk of surprises.

"The teams in the USA also need to learn to take into account an external factor - competing at over 2000 metres altitude in Mexico City is not the same as competing in Memphis, where the altitude is barely 100 metres."

Wu said it will still take some time to be able to access the full strengths and weaknesses of each team.

"Once there has been a couple of full rotations in each squad, we will begin to have a better idea," he said.

"This will give us an idea of which teams could be going through to the play-off stage.

"The individual ranking will also start to take on much more importance, since this is what will be used to determine which two boxers meet in the individual championships for a chance to win direct qualification for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

"We have also learned a lot from the first couple of match weekends.

"After all, the WSB is a completely new tournament so there is plenty of fine tuning to be done.

"As the competition develops, I expect corporate interest to develop, allowing the teams to sign up new sponsors.

"We have already seen interest from TV channels wishing to broadcast the WSB in countries outside the franchise territories [which are covered by the host broadcaster agreements]."

Wu added that in the future, there could be changes to the format of WSB with new conferences added to make the tournament more global.

"Our aim was to start the competition with a maximum of 12 teams in three conferences," said Wu.

"I sincerely hope we can already expand the tournament after the first season.

"Since the launch, we have had expressions of interest from several parties wishing to set up new teams.

"But I would also like to see new conferences.

"Africa and South America have great potential - the former because of the numerous African boxers who are already competing in the WSB, and the latter of course because of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016."

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