Who Will Canelo’s Possible Mandatories Be If He Becomes Undisputed Champion?
By Larry Torres: Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (55-1-2 37 KOs) has made it clear that he intends to unify and become the undisputed champion at 168lbs. He is halfway to his goal, as he is the WBC and WBA super-middleweight champion and has an excellent chance of making this goal happen by September of this year.
On May 8th, he will fight WBO super-middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders (30-0 14 KOs), and if he beats him, then he will likely be fighting IBF champion Caleb Plant (21-0 12 KOs) sometime in September. Obviously, Canelo must win both of these fights to achieve this goal.
Anything can happen in boxing, but many boxing analysts and pundits believe Canelo will beat Saunders and Plant. If we assume for the sake of argument that Canelo is successful and becomes the undisputed champion, what does he do next?
Canelo and his team have made it clear that if anyone wants to fight him, they must meet him at 168lbs. This seems to mean that Canelo will not be going back down to 160lbs to fight again.
In a recent interview with Mike Tyson, Canelo said it would be difficult for him to go back up to 175lbs and that he feels good and at his best at 168 lbs.
So, if he is not going back down or up in weight, then it is reasonable to assume that Canelo will stay at 168lbs even after winning all the titles. So the question becomes, who does he fight next?
There are four major sanctioning bodies in boxing, the WBC, WBA, IBF, and WBO. These sanctioning bodies will have ranked challengers who Canelo will be mandated to face at some point. It is possible that Canelo may vacate a title or two to avoid too many mandatory challengers, or he could become a WBC Franchise champion at 168lbs like he was at 160lbs, which does not require mandatory defenses.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume Canelo will not vacate any belts or become a franchise champion and let’s also assume Canelo wants to remain undisputed super-middleweight champion, who would his upcoming mandatory challengers be? Below is a discussion of who is the top contender in each sanctioning body in no particular order.
WBC: David Benavidez
Canelo’s last fight was against WBC mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim (21-3 12 KOs), so it is likely the WBC will not be ordering a mandatory fight for a while.
When they do order a mandatory challenger, that fighter would be David Benavidez (24-0 21 KOs). Benavidez is a two-time former WBC super-middleweight champion.
He recently lost his title on the scale when he came in overweight for his last title defense in August 2020. Right now, Benavidez is ranked the #1 contender in the WBC.
His last fight was a WBC title eliminator against Ronald Ellis (18-2-3 12 KOs) which Benavidez won by 11th round TKO, and the winner of this fight was supposed to face the winner of Anthony Dirrell (33-2-2 24 KOs) versus Kyrone Davis (15-2-1 6 KOs), but that fight ended in a draw making the eliminator situation complicated.
Benavidez beat Dirrell back in September 2019 to reclaim his WBC title that he lost after a failed drug test.
Assuming Benavidez solidifies his place as the #1 contender and mandatory challenger by perhaps winning another WBC title eliminator, then he should be Canelo’s mandatory.
WBO: Demetrius Andrade
Demetrius ‘Boo Boo’ Andrade (29-0 18 KOs) is the current WBO middleweight champion. As of right now, he does not fight in the super-middleweight division, but a move up could come soon.
Andrade is scheduled to defend his title against Liam Williams (23-2-1 18 KOs) on April 17. If Andrade is successful in defending his belt, then it is possible he will move up to 168lbs to become the mandatory challenger for the winner of Canelo versus Saunders.
The WBO is favorable to its former champions who move up to compete at a higher weight class. If this holds true since Andrade is a WBO champion now at 160lbs and was one at 154lbs, and he has not lost titles in the ring, then he should become the #1 contender at super-middleweight in the WBO if that is the route he chooses to go. Andrade has called out Canelo in the past.
Canelo had no interest in fighting Andrade because he said Andrade’s style is boring, and he has not fought anyone.
If Andrade is serious about getting a shot at Canelo and putting pressure on him, then he will have to go the route of informing the WBO that he intends to fight at 168lbs so that they can make him the mandatory challenger. Andrade indicated this is a possibility in his recent interview with Brian Custer.
WBA: David Morrell Jr
The WBA is a boxing organization that has a complicated system of champions. They have a ‘super’ champion, a ‘world’ or ‘regular’ champion, a ‘gold’ champion, and an interim champion. In theory, the ‘world’ or ‘regular’ champion is mandatory for the full ‘super’ title. The current ‘world’ champion in the WBA is David Morrell Jr (4-0 3 KOs).
In only his 3rd professional fight, Morrell captured the WBA interim super-middleweight championship. Morell is only 23 years old, and he has good amateur background winning the Youth World Championship in 2016 and the Cuban National Championship in 2017. Morrell is 6’1 hard-hitting southpaw with a lot of potential.
At that time, Morrell won the WBA interim title, Canelo Alvarez was the WBA world or secondary super-middleweight champion. Canelo captured the WBA super championship when he beat then-champion Callum Smith (27-1 19 KOs).
This led to the WBA elevating Morrell to the secondary champion status or WBA world champion. Morrell is supposed to be defending this secondary title against veteran John Ryder (29-5 16 KOs). If Morrell can get past Ryder and continue to win quality fights, it would be reasonable to assume he would be the mandatory challenger to fight for Canelo’s WBA super championship.
As of right now, the IBF does not have a #1 or #2 ranked contender. The current IBF champion, Caleb Plant (21-0 12 KOs), successfully defended his title in January 2021 as a voluntary defense against then #4 ranked Caleb Truax (31-5-2 19 KOs). For the IBF to determine its next mandatory challenger, they would have to order a title eliminator or eliminators. A couple of notable fighters in the IBF top 10 in the super-middleweight division are former middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs (37-3 30 KOs) and former super-middleweight champion Anthony Dirrell.
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