The ‘Undisputed versus Undisputed’ billing still applies to the forthcoming Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez-Jermell Charlo showdown.
However, that status will instantly change once the bell sounds for their super middleweight championship.
A ruling by the WBO permitted Houston’s Charlo (35-1-1, 19KOs) to retain his full undisputed champion status ahead of his September 30 challenge of Alvarez’s 168-pound crown at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. That will immediately after Hall of Fame ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. is done with his pre-fight introductions, after which point Charlo can expect to be relieved of his WBO junior middleweight title.
The decision comes as interim titlist Tim Tszyu (23-0, 17KOs) has been the mandatory challenger in waiting for two years come August 27. The two were due to meet this past January, but a lingering broken hand injury by Charlo postponed and ultimately canceled the fight. Given his decision to move up in weight to challenge Guadalajara’s Alvarez (59-2-2, 39KOs), the sanctioning body took what it felt was the most appropriate action to satisfy all demands.
“The WBO will sanction Canelo/Charlo scheduled for September 30, 2023, in Las Vegas, Nevada,” WBO Championship Committee chairman Luis Batista-Salas stated in a ruling submitted to the respective camps of Charlo and Tszyu, “Charlo will be allowed to enter the ring as WBO Champion and be announced as such.
“After Charlo enters the ring on September 30, 2023, and is officially introduced as WBO Jr. Middleweight Champion, his status and recognition as WBO Champion is terminated “Ipso Facto”. After Charlo’s WBO Champion status and recognition is terminated pursuant to above mentioned section (c) this Resolution, Tim Tszyu will be automatically elevated from Interim Champion to Full Champion status.”
The same ruling will apply in the event Alvarez-Charlo does not take place as it will still be regarded as Charlo failing to honor a previously ordered mandatory title defense.
Charlo fully unified the junior middleweight division’s titles in a tenth-round knockout of Brian Castano in their rematch last May 14 in Carson, California. Charlo held the unified lineal, WBC, WBA and IBF championship while Argentina’s Castano entered as the unbeaten WBO titlist.
The two previously fought to a July 2021 draw, after which Sydney’s Tszyu was formally named the WBO mandatory challenger. He attempted to have that title status enforced but instead leveraged his position to sign with Premier Boxing Champions, which also houses Charlo and who will present the September 30 Alvarez-Charlo superfight.
Tszyu has managed to headline three Showtime telecasts while awaiting his shot at the top prize, two of which came with the interim title at stake. He scored a ninth-round stoppage of former WBC titlist Tony Harrison this past March in his Australia homeland, where he returned for a spectacularly brief first-round knockout of Carlos Ocampo on June 17.
The ruling at the time of the Ocampo win was that Tszyu was entitled to next face Charlo by no later than September 30.
Charlo honored the date, though not the opponent. Instead, he has dared to be great in a massive challenge versus Alvarez (59-2-2, 39KOs) in a fight most felt would go to his twin brother Jermall (32-0, 22KOs), who holds the WBC middleweight title but who has not fought in more than two years.
The promotion went out of its way to highlight the rare occurrence of a fight between two reigning undisputed champions in the four-belt era. It’s only happened twice, with the lone other occasion earlier this May when Chantelle Cameron defended her 140-pound championship versus fully unified lightweight queen Katie Taylor.
The ruling by the WBO allows for Alvarez-Charlo to properly carry that billing, though not any longer than prior to the opening bell.
“Certainly, the Undisputed vs. Undisputed clash has ignited remarkable intrigue among the boxing community considering that it is the first-ever bout of such magnitude in the four-belt era,” noted Batista-Salas. “Furthermore, Charlo is moving two weight classes seeking to cement his status as one of boxing’s greatest feat in the modern era by challenging the face of boxing Canelo Alvarez. Nevertheless, it is not less true, that by virtue of Charlo disregarding his obligation to Tszyu, has failed to comply with our rules and regulations.
“However, we must stress that the current scenario is an extraordinary one, and as such, it warrants a reasonable outcome for all participants. Therefore, in the balance of all the interests involved, we are of the position that a ruling that best serves boxing’s interests outweighs Tszyu based on the extraordinary scenario involving the historic Canelo/Charlo Undisputed versus Undisputed Championship Contest. Hence, the following decision is considered proper and just as it achieves our purposes, policies, and intent of our rules as well as remedy Tsyzu’s rights and interests.”
Tszyu previously hinted a ring return for later this fall, though an exact date and opponent has yet to be determined as this goes to publication.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox