By Jake Donovan
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has a super middleweight title shot whenever he wants the opportunity.
For the moment, his only dilemma is deciding which title at which to take aim.
The World Boxing Council (WBC) announced Monday afternoon that the second-generation boxing superstar from Mexico has not elected to pursue a mandatory title shot at Anthony Dirrell. The news frees up Dirrell to make an optional defense at his leisure.
Dirrell (27-0-1, 22KOs) claimed the crown in an awkward 12-round decision victory over Sakio Bika in their Showtime-televised rematch earlier this month.
Chavez Jr. (48-1-1, 32KOs) hasn’t fought since a points win over Bryan Vera in their rematch this past March, which aired on HBO. The bout—which remains the highest rated cable televised fight of 2014—was geared towards establishing the former middleweight titlist as a formidable challenger in the super middleweight ranks.
Plans were in place for a non-title fight with Gennady Golovkin, which would have taken place on pay-per-view in July. Chavez Jr. was on board with the fight, but did not want to have to extend his current promotional contract with Top Rank. The fighter/promoter rift led to his current period of inactivity; Golovkin went on to face and beat Daniel Geale in three rounds to defend his middleweight belt, and will next face Marco Antonio Rubio in another title defense this upcoming October.
Meanwhile, Chavez Jr. is being groomed for a PPV showdown with unified super middleweight titlist Carl Froch, targeted for the first quarter of 2015. While he is still attempting to sort out his promotional status, the appeal of a showdown with Froch is the more likely reason for his passing on a fight with Dirrell.
Potential candidates have yet to be discussed for Dirrell, who overcame non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma earlier in his career to become just the second cancer survivor to claim a major belt. The first came a week prior, when Daniel Jacobs knocked out Jarrod Fletcher to claim a middleweight belt.
Dirrell could have been the first to do so, had the judges done a better job in his first fight with Bika last December in Brooklyn, New York. Many believed the unbeaten boxer—who served along with older brother Andre Dirrell and unbeaten super middleweight king Andre Ward on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Boxing team in Athens—to have done enough to beat Bika in their title fight last, but he was forced to settle for a 12-round draw and an eight-month wait at redemption.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox