WBA Title Confusion: Berlanga Mandatory for Morrell, Not Canelo

By Robert Segal - 02/29/2024 - Comments

WBA president Gilberto Mendoza says Edgar Berlanga’s win last weekend makes him the mandatory for David Morrell Jr’s WBA ‘regular’ super middleweight title, not Canelo Alvarez’s undisputed 168-lb championship as many reported.

Dan Rafael says he spoke with WBA president Mendoza, who informed him that Berlanga is the mandatory for Morrell’s ‘regular’ title and not Canelo. Of course, if he chooses, that won’t stop Canelo from fighting Berlanga. It would be a voluntary defense for Canelo rather than a mandatory one with the WBA.

Berlanga (22-0, 17 KOs), in a matter-of-fact tone, told the media last Saturday night that he’s the WBA mandatory for Canelo after his sixth-round knockout win over Padraig McCrory at the post-fight press conference.

When asked if he would be interested in fighting Morrell for his WBA ‘regular’ title, Berlanga said, “No.” He only wanted Canelo and felt he’d earned the shot by beating McCrory in a WBA title eliminator.

Berlanga and his promoter, Eddie Hearn, won’t agree to fight Morrell because that’s not a big-money fight like the Canelo match-up, and the chances of success against the talented Cuban fighter would slim.

 Absurdity Exposed

“WBA president Gilberto Mendoza told me when I asked him this week that Edgar’s win in the eliminator made him mandatory for regular titleholder David Morrell and that if there is a Canelo-Berlanga bout it would be a Canelo optional defense but not a mandatory,” said boxing expert Dan Rafael on X.

“Morrell is the WBA mandatory for Canelo (a fight that has not been ordered at this point), and Berlanga is the mandatory for Morrell (a fight also not yet ordered). Yes, it’s all absurd.”

If Canelo does choose to defend his undisputed championship against Berlanga on May 4th, he won’t have the excuse that he’s defending against his WBA mandatory to fall back on, as it would be a voluntary defense. Canelo won’t have that as cover to explain away his rationale for fighting Berlanga, which would make him look bad in the eyes of fans.

Boxing fans are already upset enough at Canelo for not defending against David Benavidez, but it’ll make them even angrier if he faces Berlanga next. The Eddie Hearn-promoted Berlanga has recently fought weak opposition from Europe, beating Padraig McCrory and Jason Quigley. Fans feel that Berlanga hasn’t done enough to rate a title shot against Canelo