One month after knocking out Sergey Kovalev to win the WBO’s version of the light-heavyweight title, Canelo Alvarez and the sanctioning body have reached an agreement to allow the new champion to vacate while maintaining his status as “WBO Super Champion” across all weight classes.
The agreement was negotiated per the WBO’s rule that none of its champions can hold titles from other sanctioning bodies across multiple classes. Canelo currently holds the WBC middleweight and WBA super-middleweight titles.
“I know that my accomplishments in the ring have brought pride to my fans and my country,” said Canelo in a prepared statement. “I have long enjoyed my relationship with the WBO and appreciate all they do to preserve and enhance the sport of boxing. This agreement allows the WBO to have its light heavyweight title contested regularly and allows me to pursue bouts against the best opponents, regardless of weight class.”
The move opens the door for unification bouts at 168 and 160 with respective WBO title-holders Billy Joe Saunders and Demetrius Andrade. Rival and IBF middleweight title-holder Gennady Golovkin remains a possibility for a 2020 trilogy fight, but WBO president Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel is confident Canelo’s immediate plans are to target another WBO champion.
“Canelo has already accomplished much in boxing, and is still a young man,” said Valcarcel. “When his career is done, he will be regarded as one of the greatest boxers to ever step into the ring, and one of Mexico’s best fighters ever. We look forward to his future fights against rivals at the top of the middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight, and other divisions.”
Canelo’s promoter Golden Boy currently has two other WBO champions in Patrick Teixeira and Franchon Crews-Dezurn.
Very shrewd move on Canelo’s part and possibly a bad one for Golovkin’s hopes for a third fight in May (and DAZN’s, for that matter).
If you’re Billy Joe Saunders, you have to feel good about your chances of landing the Canelo fight in May. For one, it’ll be much easier for Canelo to drop back to 168 rather than shedding 15 pounds for middleweight. And while Saunders has the tools to make Canelo look bad, he isn’t a big puncher and his defensive style is typically not rewarded by judges in Vegas (where the fight is sure to be held).
Demetrius Andrade has a very slim chance to get this fight. Canelo’s already on record as calling him “boring.” However, we have short memories in boxing. If Andrade should blast out his just-announced opponent Luke Keeler on January 30, maybe Canelo would have a change of heart.
That leaves Golovkin, still waiting in the wings for his shot at revenge. We have no idea how much was taken out of him by the Derevyanchenko battle. And should Canelo choose Saunders or Andrade next, the rubbermatch won’t happen until September 2020, adding another year of erosion to his already 37-year-old frame.