THE World Boxing Council’s decision to create a Franchise title and award it to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez as a replacement for his world middleweight belt is beyond ludicrous.
The situation, purely of the sanctioning body’s making, appears to have been triggered by the latest round of negotiations for the Mexican superstar’s next fight, scheduled to take place on September 14 in Las Vegas. The sport’s most marketable man is believed to have targeted Gennady Golovkin, the WBC’s No.1 middleweight contender, before turning his attention to WBO light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev after “GGG” raised some objections to fighting Canelo in Sin City for a third time. Two highly controversial decisions inside the T-Mobile Arena (a draw in 2017 and a loss in 2018) certainly validate Golovkin’s concerns.
Not under consideration from Team Canelo was Jermall Charlo, the owner of the WBC’s bogus ‘Interim’ belt and their mandatory contender at middleweight. Alvarez’s failure to take on the leading contenders at 160lbs should just have resulted in the 28-year-old being stripped. There is no need to muster up some expensive tat to soften the blow. After all, Canelo heading up to 175lbs is a move that will only enhance his legacy should he prove successful.
Canelo does not regard the WBC’s world title as highly as the WBC regards him – otherwise he’d make every effort to defend it. Not a snub, necessarily, just an admission that he’s moving on. Rather than accepting this, the WBC go out of their way to create a new belt that he can take with him. A belt to show Canelo that they will always love him. In short, to admit that the fighter is bigger than the organisation and, more concerning, their rules and regulations.
From what Boxing News can gather, the title basically gives Alvarez free reign to do as he pleases, to ignore mandatory commitments and to act as an ambassador for the WBC. It also appears to make total unification impossible.
The WBC have created extra confusion in an already mind-boggling landscape. One can only imagine how Michael Buffer will feel when he is forced to announce Canelo as Franchise champion and the tuts and sniggers that will follow at ringside.
The WBC’s president Mauricio Sulaiman has always made it clear that the interests of the boxers must come first. In many ways, he should be applauded for this, and his efforts to ensure the sport is as safe as possible cannot be matched by any of the other sanctioning bodies. Indeed, his war on drugs with the Clean Boxing Programme was a huge step in the right direction. He does so many great things for the sport behind the scenes that go unnoticed, too.
But the flipside is how Sulaiman appears to have singled out Canelo, boxing’s biggest cash cow, for special treatment. Last year he was forgiven by the WBC (and, in fairness, everyone with a vested interest) for failing a drug test. The whole contaminated meat excuse was lapped up following an investigation that simply could not have proved his innocence.
Furthermore, decisions to create these nonsensical titles, to ensure the richest and most influential boxers are kept onside, does nothing to help the organisation’s reputation nor, sadly, the sport’s.
While we’re all for boxers getting as much as they can from the trade, this latest development is a step too far. Those claiming to sanction and govern the sport must be seen to be in control, rather than handing that control to certain fighters out of fear that they will lose their association with them if they do not.
Sulaiman is an exceptionally likeable man, one who holds the sport close to his heart and one who is deeply proud of the WBC’s heritage. And one who scoffed when BN recently put it to him that the manufacturing of multiple belts was no better than what the World Boxing Association have been guilty of in recent years with the creation of ‘Super’ and ‘Regular’ titles.
Frankly, this Franchise strap is the worst of the lot.