As if boxing's issues with its numerous world titles wasn't confusing enough, the WBC has now made a major change to its middleweight title picture with the introduction of a brand new concept.
The WBC has now appointed Canelo Alvarez as the WBC Franchise champion, effectively ending his reign as the middleweight champion while elevating interim titleholder Jermall Charlo to full world champion. The Franchise champion, as the WBC stated, provides "a unique status to those fighters who prove to be of an elite level and stature, those who compete and have activity in multiple divisions, those who have accomplished success in the ring and hold a proven and unquestionable stature in the boxing industry."
In a roundabout way, the WBC believes that Alvarez's career achievements earned him the special designation. This would give Alvarez full control of his career in regards to exercising mandatory challengers from other organizations and choosing whatever fights he wishes with the full support from the WBC and without worrying about purse bids and mandatory challengers put up by the WBC.
As for Charlo, his first defense of his new title will be against Brandon Adams on June 29 in the main event of a Showtime-televised card from the NRG Arena in Houston. Charlo had held the interim WBC middleweight title since April 2018 when he knocked out Jorge Sebastian Heiland in Brooklyn.
Despite holding the interim belt for more than a year, there was no clear indication of when the WBC would decide on ordering a fight between Alvarez and Charlo. The elevation of the title status of both champions effectively ends any obligation of forcing that fight to happen.
The WBC has made a list of what being the Franchise champion entails, which can be seen below.
1. The Franchise Champion designation is exclusively by appointment of the WBC Board of Governors by a majority vote of the board.
2. This designation is not transferable and is exclusively to the fighter who receives such designation.
3. The Franchise Champion will be designated as WBC Emeritus Champion once he retires from boxing.
4. The Franchise Champion will proudly represent the WBC in every single fight as a reigning WBC champion, regardless of any specific conditions or titles being associated with all future fights. WBC rules and regulations will govern under the traditional conditions of boxing in the Franchise champion fights. WBC will approve through the franchise champion promoter every opponent scheduled to fight.
5. Franchise Champion agrees to participate in a minimum of two social responsibility events every year, organized and in conjunction with the WBC.
6. The WBC may recognize a WBC champion in the division or divisions where the Franchise champion currently competes.
7. The WBC may award a Diamond Championship belt in those fights in which the Franchise Champion engages. If the Franchise Champion loses, the winner will receive the Diamond belt and may be considered as mandatory contender of the division.
The announcement adds further confusion to the world title picture and potentially sets up a precedent where the WBC crowns more Franchise champions down the road. The WBA has been heavily criticized by the boxing community for adopting the practice of having "Super" and "Regular" champions, both of which the organization considers to be world champions, but many simply consider the one holding the "Super" title to be the true champion.
Alvarez still holds the IBF and WBA's super version of the middleweight titles, both of which were won in the past year. Alvarez won the WBC and WBA titles last September with a majority decision win over Gennadiy Golovkin and then added the IBF belt in May when he defeated Daniel Jacobs.
The 28-year-old Alvarez is scheduled to fight again at some point this year. Alvarez was in negotiations with Golovkin for a third fight this September, but there is no word on if a deal will ever be reached. Even if the trilogy fight between the two stars were to be made, what would be at stake now would be the WBA "Super" and IBF belts with a possibility of a WBC Diamond belt and a potential shot at Charlo's title on the line for Golovkin should he beat Alvarez.
As it stands, if a fighter beats the Franchise champion, it does not necessarily mean that they are the WBC world champion of that weight class, but would possibly be in line to face the actual champion of that weight class, which in this case would be Charlo.