Canelo Alvarez’s departure from the middleweight division is now official with him relinquishing the WBA title.
The four-division champion has now vacated his version of the WBA title at 160 pounds, which was the sanctioning body’s “Super” title. The news was official on Friday, the first day of 2021, and left the middleweight title picture a little more clear.
With Alvarez gone from middleweight, Ryota Murata is now the sole champion at 160 pounds representing the WBA. Prior to this, Murata was the WBA’s secondary champion to Alvarez’s “Super” title and held the belt since July 2019. Murata, Gennadiy Golovkin (IBF), Jermall Charlo (WBC) and Demetrius Andrade (WBO) are the current middleweight champions.
Alvarez leaving the middleweight division is not a shocking revelation. Several weeks ago, Alvarez and trainer Eddy Reynoso noted the fighter is likely done at middleweight as they feel super middleweight is Alvarez’s best weight. Alvarez’s last fight at middleweight was in May 2019 when he defeated Daniel Jacobs in a title unification. Since then, Alvarez fought at light heavyweight against Sergey Kovalev and more recently, against Callum Smith for the WBA and WBC super middleweight titles.
The Mexican star’s future is not set in stone, but he will more than likely campaign at super middleweight for the time being. Reynoso told ESPN that the current plans are to have Alvarez fight mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim in Guadalajara, Mexico in February. However, that fight’s future in Mexico hangs in the balance due to increase COVID-19 restrictions in the country.
Alvarez could fight again in May if things go well in a February matchup against Yildirim. Names mentioned for a May fight for Alvarez are fellow super middleweight titlists Caleb Plant and Billy Joe Saunders as well as Golovkin. If Alvarez fights either Plant or Saunders in May, the stage would be set for an undisputed title fight against the other champion in September.
The 30-year-old Alvarez held some version of the middleweight title for the majority of 2015 through 2020. He first won the WBC title in 2015 when he defeated Miguel Cotto. Alvarez has beaten the likes of Amir Khan, Jacobs and Golovkin in middleweight title bouts.
Presently, the No. 1 contender ranked by the WBA is interim titleholder Chris Eubank Jr. Magomed Madiev, Carlos Lindsey Monroe, Mikalai Vesialou and former world champion Sergio Martinez round out the rest of the WBA’s top five.
Murata is in his second reign holding his version of the WBA title. He first won it in 2017 against Hassan N’Dam, but went on to drop it to Rob Brant the following year. Murata and Brant fought each other again in 2019 with Murata stopping Brant in two rounds.