Evander Holyfield's Real Deal Boxing promotional company and the WBC are teaming up for an eight-man single-elimination tournament in the welterweight division, the former heavyweight world champion and sanctioning organization have announced.
The tournament, which is accepting applications from interested boxers through Jan. 12, will include three cards in 2018 at sites to be determined and has been named the Jose Sulaiman World Invitational in honor of the late WBC president.
"The welterweight division is among the hottest divisions in boxing, and the WBC is the very best organization in boxing to work with on this unique and fan-friendly event," Holyfield said.
According to the announcement, each fighter in the first round will receive a purse of $15,000, with the winner of each bout receiving a victory bonus of $7,500. Each fighter in the semifinals will receive $30,000, with the winners getting a $15,000 bonus. The fighters in the final will receive $75,000, with the winner receiving a $25,000 bonus.
The quarterfinal and semifinal bouts will be scheduled for 10 rounds. If there is a draw, there will be an 11th round.
"We've said from the start that we want to stand out and provide a unique experience for our fighters and our fans," Real Deal Boxing chief operating officer Eric Bentley said. "This tournament will offer a select group of fighters an opportunity to fight on a global platform for the WBC with the potential to earn a high ranking. It's a big undertaking for our company, but we're up to the challenge and believe this can be something we do on a regular basis.
"We expect to have dates, locations and broadcast information ready to be released in the coming weeks."
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman, who took over running the organization following his father's death in 2014, said his father championed the idea of boxing tournaments and that he was pleased to work with Holyfield and his team on one to honor his father.
"Evander Holyfield and the Real Deal Boxing [are] making my father's dream a reality," Mauricio Sulaiman said. "The Jose Sulaiman World Invitational tournament will lead our sport into a new era as these concepts truly capture the essence of boxing and its global interest. Fighters from around the world will meet to have a sole winner, who will eventually be finding a world title opportunity in the world's most important boxing entity, the WBC.
"This tournament will launch several innovative rules and procedures, and our gratitude goes to Evander, our great legendary champion, and his staff for making this a reality."
The WBC ratings committee and a fan poll will determine the seeds for the quarterfinal bouts. Input from each will account for half of the consideration for the seedings. Fans will be able to vote for seeding and first-round matchups through Real Deal Boxing's social media accounts.
There will be two backup boxers on call in case fighters are forced to drop out of the tournament.
The tournament will use a standardized scoring process -- yet to be unveiled -- to define how the judges should score each bout, which the organizers believe will lead to less controversy. In addition, a fourth judge will be placed at ringside, and a fifth judge will be placed in front of a television monitor with no audio commentary. All five judges' scorecards will be used if the fight goes the distance. Normally, only three judges score a fight.
The WBC plans to use open scoring, which would make the scores known to the boxers and fans during the bout, although most commissions in the United States do not allow it.