Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez’s latest opponent was recently announced as Jermell Charlo in a clash billed as ‘undisputed versus undisputed’, with both men holding all four belts in their respective super-middleweight and super-welterweight divisions.
However, a recent statement from one of the WBO means that the truth of this tagline is up for debate.
Canelo claimed Callum Smith’s WBA world title, as well as the vacant WBC crown, back in 2020, when he dominated and outpointed the Brit who has since moved up to light-heavyweight.
Then it was the turn of another Englishman, as Alvarez brutally stopped Billy Joe Saunders six months later, adding the WBO belt to his collection.
Finally, the Mexican challenged Caleb Plant for undisputed status, with Plant’s IBF title on the line, knocking out ‘Sweet Hands’ in the eleventh round and thus cementing his legacy as an all-time great.
Meanwhile, Jermell Charlo lost his WBC 154lb championship to Tony Harrison in 2018, but knocked Harrison out in the rematch to reclaim world honours.
Then came Jeison Rosario, who held the unified WBA and IBF belts, but was knocked out by Charlo, before ‘Iron Man’ twice faced Brian Castano to become undisputed, drawing their initial bout but dominating the rematch.
As a result, Canelo-Charlo is billed as the first ever all-undisputed male contest in the history of the four-belt era, but the WBO have now announced that Charlo will be stripped of his title immediately after he is announced in the ring, meaning he will not be the undisputed champion whilst the fight is underway.
“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”.”
Instead, Tim Tszyu will be elevated to full champion, rendering Charlo as a unified titlist rather than undisputed once the bell rings. What the other sanctioning bodies do remains to be seen.
The WBO’s statement called the fight an ‘extraordinary and historic’ contest, and the ruling allows it to continue to be billed as such. Its answer to support both parties is to enforce the rules by promoting Tszyu one the promotion is complete and the action is underway.