The International Boxing Association (Aiba) has announced that India will return to its World Series of Boxing (WSB) competition, while Croatia will enter a franchise for the first time.
Aiba has revealed the make-up of season eight of the WSB, which is set to commence in February with one fewer franchise than this year. The format will retain the three-group, regular season and global play-offs model, with the Croatian Knights franchise joining for the first time to battle it out for qualification from Group Europe, while Group Asia welcomes a team from India.
India has been missing from the WSB since the Mumbai Fighters franchise withdrew in 2012. The new India team will face reigning champions the Astana Arlans, along with the China Dragons and Russia’s Patriot Boxing Team in Group Asia.
The Croatian Knights will begin their first season against the British Lionhearts, France Fighting Roosters and Italia Thunder in Group Europe. In Group Americas, Season VII finalists Cuba Domadores will be looking to equal the Arlans’ record and win a third title of their own. They will again face regional competition from Colombia Heroicos and Venezuela Caciques.
The Argentina Condors, Morocco Atlas Lions and Uzbek Tigers have all dropped out of the WSB having featured this season.
Aiba interim president Franco Falcinelli said: “In terms of the quality and excitement of boxing on show, entertainment and production levels and our global audience reach, WSB Season VII set new standards for our sport.
“In Season VIII, we can now go even further, with India’s vast and growing appetite for boxing adding a new dimension to the 2018 competition and the Croatian Knights bringing with them all of that great nation’s boxing history.”
Croatian Knights general manager Mladen Mikolcevic added: “The competition is part of our strategy to help our boxers to secure a successful Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification pathway.
“Several members of the side have already amassed significant WSB experience with the likes of British Lionhearts and Astana Arlans and will be sharing that precious know-how with their teammates, allowing Croatian Knights to go into the competition confident of making a big impact and progressing through to the play-offs.”