The WSB is suspended indefinitely and is set to be disbanded ©WSB

The World Series of Boxing (WSB) is suspended indefinitely and is set to be disbanded after the International Boxing Association (AIBA) confirmed it could not fulfil its agreement with the competition's main investor.

AIBA executive director Tom Virgets told insidethegames the series, launched in 2010, was "inactive" and will not resume unless significant investment can be found to fund it.

This seems unlikely given AIBA's perilous financial situation coupled with the decision from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to suspend the embattled organisation as the Olympic governing body for boxing.

The removal of AIBA as the Olympic International Federation for the sport is a factor in the collapse of the WSB as the series offered 32 quotas for Tokyo 2020 before the IOC removed AIBA's involvement in the boxing tournament at next year's Games.

"Following the IOC's decision to remove AIBA as the Olympic IF for Tokyo 2020 and the removal of the 32 WSB Olympic quota positions from the programme, AIBA was not able to meet the conditions of its investor agreement for the WSB," Virgets said. 

"The programme is currently inactive. 

"The WSB Board continues to seek the resources necessary to reactivate this exciting, made for TV boxing league."

The 2019 WSB had already been plunged into crisis when two of the main franchises, Astana Arlans Kazakhstan and Uzbek Tigers, withdrew, citing financial difficulties and the supposed "lack of relevance" of the competition following the IOC decision.

Organisers had attempted to improve its financial stability with an overhaul of the format after Virgets admitted it had "incurred significant financial losses" and "presented no possibility of turning a profit" in its initial state.

The 2019 World Series of Boxing will not take place ©WSB
The 2019 World Series of Boxing will not take place ©WSB

It has been held in every year in 2010 and was launched amid considerable fanfare, with AIBA claiming that it "marked a new era in the sport of boxing, reuniting the broader boxing world and its grassroots amateur foundation by providing a bridge between Olympic boxing and professional boxing".

It has since placed further financial strain on AIBA, which has made all but four employees redundant in a bid to preserve its future because of its debts of CHF17 million (£13.9 million/$17.3 million/€15.4 million), and the franchises involved.

The WSB is organised by AIBA but has its own board, of which Virgets is a director, and its main investor is Hong Kong’s First Contract International Trade (FCIT), chaired by Chinese businessman and Executive Committee member Wu Di.

FCIT is considered one of AIBA's most important creditors and the two organisations reached a settlement agreement in 2018, which agreed to turn the debt into a marketing deal with AIBA.

The company had initially demanded AIBA repay the CHF19 million (£15.5 million/$19.3 million/€17.2 million) loan it provided to the now defunct Boxing Marketing Arm, which was tasked with promoting and selling rights for all AIBA products, including the WSB.

insidethegames understands Wu - made an AIBA Executive Committee member by former President Gafur Rakhimov, whose election was the catalyst for the IOC suspending AIBA's recognition - has accepted his company will not be repaid until the troubled organisation rectifies its issues.

The agreement with FCIT was among the concerns listed in the report from the IOC Inquiry Committee, which led the investigation into AIBA amid serious issues with its governance, finances and refereeing and judging.

In the report, the Inquiry Committee said the deal "does not substantially change AIBA’s current financial situation, since it also provides no cash benefit to AIBA in the short term".

"As a consequence of this settlement agreement, AIBA will transfer a majority of its shares in the WSB, the AIBA marketing subsidiary, to FCIT against a reduction of FCIT’s claim," the report read.

"Simultaneously, AIBA will grant FCIT a licence for intellectual property rights and commercial rights pertaining to AIBA competitions and activities for a long period of time.

"Therefore, there remains significant uncertainty regarding the financing of the future payments provided by the above-mentioned settlement."