By Keith Idec
Mauricio Sulaiman understands all the criticism the WBC has taken since designating Canelo Alvarez its franchise middleweight champion.
Fans and media have heavily disparaged the Mexico City-based sanctioning organization since it elevated Alvarez on June 26 to the unprecedented status of franchise champion. The WBC also made Jermall Charlo, previously its interim champion, its world middleweight champion and essentially eliminated Charlo’s mandatory shot at Alvarez.
The WBC president defended and attempted to explain those decisions during an interview with BoxingScene.com, which took place as part of the seventh annual Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame event Saturday night in Las Vegas.
“Well, it is something that has to be understood,” Sulaiman said. “It’s gonna take a little time for everybody to get it. It is not a new belt. It is not a new championship. It is not a new title. It is a designation of a fighter, of a very specific criteria – legendary champion of multi divisions. He has been affiliated with the WBC for 12 years, champion in three different divisions. He’s competing in three different divisions.
“He has a very strict contract [with DAZN] that he has to comply with, in which he has to give the fans the best fights possible. You don’t know if he’s gonna fight in light heavyweight, super middleweight, middleweight, even super welterweight. That’s why the WBC has been thinking about a designation and we name it franchise. It was an agreement with him, with his promoter, that he would be representing the WBC in every fight. And every fight would be dealt [with] individually with regards to who the opponent is and what weight category.”
The WBC’s designation was widely excoriated as a way to avoid actually stripping Alvarez of its middleweight title. The Mexican superstar did not own a WBC title in another weight class when the WBC named him its franchise middleweight champion.
Sulaiman’s comments shed little light on what Alvarez’s franchise designation actually means. He did say, however, that no opponent can win the franchise championship from Alvarez.
“The franchise [championship] is a designation, non-transferrable,” Sulaiman said. “So, if you beat the franchise champion, you are not franchise champion.”
Alvarez, 29, hasn’t chosen his next opponent.
He could move up two weight classes to challenge WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev later this year. That possibility depends upon Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) defeating England’s Anthony Yarde (18-0, 17 KOs), his mandatory challenger, on August 24 in Chelyabinsk, Russia, Kovalev’s hometown.
Meanwhile, Sulaiman hasn’t ruled out creating WBC franchise champions in other divisions.
“It is only for an elite fighter who has an important role in the industry,” Sulaiman said. “Canelo, nobody can doubt that he moves the industry. There are a few fighters that do that. And this is to grow the industry.”
When asked if WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder would meet the WBC’s criteria for a franchise champion, Sulaiman was noncommittal.
“It’s a case by case basis,” Sulaiman said. “It’s to analyze the specifics. And if you ask about Deontay Wilder, I would leave it up to everyone to analyze. He’s been five years champion, undefeated, title defenses. He’d be willing to fight anyone. But now he’s got a fight against [Luis] Ortiz, a rematch against [Tyson] Fury, so people like to speculate and like to make different stories. But I am here to respond to any questions. I accept the critics. I accept that people could think it’s a way of confusing, but it’s to the contrary. We want the sport to grow. And by the way, any money that is made on the franchise champion is going 100 percent for the ‘Clean Boxing Program,’ for the weight management program and for the medical research for the task force that has been created.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.
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