DALLAS—The time has come to ring in a new middleweight era.
On the heels of claiming his fourth divisional title following a 12-round virtual shutout of Callum Smith, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez will compete exclusively at super middleweight moving forward. The decision is accompanied by his officially vacating the WBA “Super” middleweight title, abdicating his place atop the 160-pound division.
“He is 168 now, it is his prime weight,” Eddy Reynoso, Alvarez’s head trainer and manager confirmed to BoxingScene.com on Friday. “It is where he feels strongest and we are not giving away anything in weight anymore at middleweight.”
The move leaves Japan’s Ryota Murata as the recognized WBA middleweight champion, and thus eligible to enter title unification bouts. Other sanctioning bodies frown upon unifying with secondary titlists.
Alvarez (54-1-2, 36KOs) has held the WBA strap since a 12-round majority decision win over Gennadiy Golovkin (41-1-1, 36KOs) in their Sept. 2018 rematch. With the win also came ties to the WBC title along with re-establishing his lineal championship reign. Nine months later—following a brief stop at super middleweight in a Dec. 2018 3rd round knockout of Rocky Fielding to win a secondary WBA title—Guadalajara’s Alvarez claimed the IBF following a 12-round unanimous decision over Daniel Jacobs in their May 2019 three-belt unification bout.
Soon thereafter came the rapid relinquishing of his alphabet trinkets. Alvarez exchanged the WBC belt for “Franchise” championship status in June 2019, though his IBF belt run ended without a single title defense. Alvarez was due to face mandatory challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko, but was stripped of the IBF belt in Aug. 2019 after failure to come to terms within the sanctioning body’s imposed and extended deadlines.
Alvarez has not since fought at middleweight, though opting to hold onto the WBA title for as long as the sanctioning body would permit. He still held such status heading into his WBO light heavyweight title-winning knockout over Sergey Kovalev in Nov. 2019, vacating the 175-pound belt just 45 days later as he sought a run in the super middleweight division.
Plans to face WBO 168-pound titlist Billy Joe Saunders last May were thwarted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, before settling on Saunders’ countryman in Smith whom Alvarez soundly outpointed in their Dec. 19th WBA super middleweight title consolidation bout along with picking up the vacant WBC 168-pound belt.
Alvarez indicated afterward his intentions to remain at 168, which he views as his optimal weight. Next up will be a mandatory title defense versus Avni Yildirim in the first quarter of 2021, with intentions of fully unifying the super middleweight division soon thereafter.
Anyone else interested in landing a career-best payday and a shot at the sport’s best fighter in the world will have to move up to 168 to do so. That includes any hope of a third fight with Golovkin or any other relevant middleweight player.
“This is his weight,” confirms Reynoso. “Anyone who wants to fight Canelo will have to meet us (at super middleweight). He’s not giving away anymore of his prime.”
Noel Galang – Kamao TV