Canelo Alvarez's stated goal this year was to collect all four of the middleweight world title belts, but boxing's biggest star now has a tougher task after being relieved of one of his sanctioning organization titles.
The WBC announced on Wednesday that Alvarez has been reclassified as the organization's so-called "franchise champion" -- something the organization recently created -- and that interim titleholder Jermall Charlo has been elevated to being its full world titleholder. When Alvarez outpointed Daniel Jacobs on May 4 in their highly anticipated title unification bout, he claimed a third major 160-pound world belt, but now he is down to two with the WBC's latest move, which adds another layer of confusion to boxing's alphabet soup of belts.
In announcing the move, the WBC said that it created the "franchise champion" tag during its recent midyear meetings in Honolulu, where the WBC board of governors approved it in a vote.
"The franchise champion is a special designation and status which the WBC may bestow to a current WBC world champion, who is also an elite boxer and who has achieved and maintains the highest of statures in the sport," the WBC said in its explanation.
The organization added, "The WBC may, upon a two-thirds vote of the board of governors, designate in each weight category one WBC franchise champion. A franchise champion shall enjoy special status with respect to his or her mandatory obligations, holding multiple titles and competing for titles of other organizations, as the WBC board of governors rules on a case-by-case basis. ... The WBC is bestowing that honor upon champion Alvarez due to his many accomplishments, which have positioned him as major worldwide attraction in boxing, and in light of his unquestionable boxing career linked to our organization."
The WBC said the designation was made via mutual agreement between the WBC, Alvarez and Golden Boy Promotions (Alvarez's promoter). Indeed, Golden Boy was not at all upset with the reclassification even if it means Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs), 28, of Mexico, is no longer the WBC world titleholder.
"We're very happy and glad that Canelo is being recognized," Golden Boy Promotions president Eric Gomez told ESPN on Thursday. "We think it's an honor for Canelo to be elevated to franchise champion. It goes to show that he is being recognized for all of his accomplishments."
The WBC said part of the designation requires Alvarez, or any franchise champion -- Alvarez is the only one at this point -- to "participate in a minimum of two social responsibility events every year, organized and in conjunction with the WBC.
"With Canelo's appointment as franchise champion WBC interim champion Jermall Charlo is now confirmed as WBC middleweight champion of the world," the WBC added.
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman told ESPN on Thursday that the WBC is "trying to provide an avenue to enhance boxing and to grow the industry. We are making a rule, a status, to bring clarity, not to confuse."
When Alvarez held the world title and Charlo was the interim titlist, the WBC did not order the mandatory bout, putting it off while Alvarez was involved in his preparation for the unification bout against Jacobs.
Charlo claimed the vacant interim belt in April 2018 by second-round knockout of Hugo Centeno Jr. in Brooklyn, New York. Alvarez is due back in the ring on Sept. 14. He does not yet have an opponent, although his team's discussions are focused on making a third fight with former unified champion Gennady Golovkin.
Charlo (28-0, 21 KOs), 29, is scheduled to fight "Contender" reality series winner Brandon Adams (21-2, 13 KOs), 29, of Los Angeles, on Saturday night in a Showtime-televised main event at the NRG Arena in Houston, Charlo's hometown. That fight will now be for the WBC's world title rather than the interim belt.