- Saul “Canelo” Alvarez has officially vacated the WBA middleweight title.
- Alvarez defeated Callum Smith last December 19th to win the WBA and IBF super middleweight titles.
- Canelo is eyeing to defend the WBC belt agains Avni Yildirim next month.
Canelo Alvarez has officially left the middleweight division. Fresh off legitimizing his reign as a 168-pound champion, the Mexican boxing superstar announced that he is vacating the WBA middleweight title to focus on fighting at super middleweight and hopefully unifying the belts in that division.
Canelo Alvarez Officially Vacates WBA Middleweight Title https://t.co/WlyWpqFqtM pic.twitter.com/6sMq6Gk37o
— BoxingScene.com (@boxingscene) January 1, 2021
Alvarez won the WBA belt from Genadiy Golovkin in their second fight on September 15, 2018. But he has defended it only once, against Daniel Jacobs during the Cinco de Mayo weekend of the following year. With Alvarez relinquishing the title, WBA “world” middleweight champion Ryota Murata of Japan as the “recognized” WBA 160-pound champion. Murata could be promoted to “super” champion status or could face interim champion Chris Eubanks for the right to be called as such.
As for Alvarez, the move keeps him true to his word that he will unify the 168-pound belts.
Dominating Callum Smith
Canelo dominated Callum Smith ?#CaneloSmith
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 20, 2020
Alvarez recently returned from the longest layoff of his professional boxing career to dominate Callum Smith last December 19th in San Antonio to capture the latter’s WBA “super” super middleweight title and win the vacant WBC super middleweight belt. Canelo defeated Smith via a wide unanimous decision with scores of 117-111, 119-109, and 119-109.
In only his second fight in the division, Alvarez looked very comfortable against Smith despite giving up a massive size and reach disadvantage against the former champion. Canelo continually pressed the action and forced the bigger man to fight backwards. Alvarez connected on 60% of his power punches and landed a total of 209 punches en route to becoming a four-division world champion.
After the fight, Alvarez revealed his intention to stay at the 168-pound division in a bid to unify the world titles. His longtime trainer Eddy Reynoso explained that 168 is Alvarez’s prime weight and that his fighter is done giving up anything in weight anymore just to make big fights. According to Reynoso, if the big names want a piece of Canelo, they must go to 168-pounds to fight him.
The Third Golovkin Fight?
Report: Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennadiy Golovkin agree to third fight | https://t.co/EF1rkRMO0o pic.twitter.com/iBbXWwHBWw
— TheMacLife (@Maclifeofficial) March 17, 2020
Alvarez’s decision to stay at 168 seriously puts doubts on a third fight with Gennadiy Golovkin. The two fought to a controversial draw in 2018 before Alvarez defeated Golovkin in a disputed majority decision win one year later. The two agreed to a rematch last year after taking separate bouts and Golovkin even made the move to follow Alvarez by signing with DAZN. But after this move, making that third fight could be more difficult than ever.
Next up for Alvarez is a WBC 168-pound title defense against mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim. Yildirim was supposed to face Canelo for the vacant belt but Yildirim agreed to step aside to pave the way for Alvarez to fight Smith with the assurance that he gets the first crack at the winner. In an announcement last month, Alvarez says he plans to face Yildirim in February before returning to fight again during his traditional Cinco de Mayo weekend schedule, if he beats Yildirim.
Canelo’s team is looking at three possible opponents for his May 2021 bout. One is WBO champion Billie Joe Saunders, IBF champion Caleb Plant, and Golovkin. However, Reynoso said that the Kazakh must move up to 168-pounds if he wants to get a third crack at the Mexican. Golovkin is coming off a successful middleweight title defense against Kamil Szeremata days before Avlarez beat Smith.