Canelo Alvarez has just been named the mandatory challenger to Billy Joe Saunder’s middleweight title by the WBO. Golden Boy formally requested the position with the sanctioning body on Dec. 10, while Canelo currently maintains the WBO’s junior middleweight title.
With this move Canelo gets the nod over Avtandil Khurtsidze, the WBO’s No. 1 ranked contender, who had requested the mandatory position two days prior to Canelo on Dec. 8. But unfortunately for Khurtsidze, he’s simply not the name nor the money-maker that Canelo is.
In the WBO’s resolution, the sanctioning body cited Canelo’s resume against top-tier opponents as the reason why they gave the mandatory status to Canelo over Khurtsidze. They also specifically mention that Canelo has become "a boxing fan's idol," despite Canelo having become a target of boxing fan’s ire for skirting a fight with Gennady Golovkin, which should have happened by now.
But the WBO calls Canelo a "crowd favorite, with more than 52,000 fans present in his recent bout against Liam Smith in Dallas. He is the top pay-per-view fighter on HBO, [and] his presence has given that category a renewed interest in boxing. At this moment, [he] will give boxing the maximum required exposure.”
All of that is a thinly-veiled, if at all veiled, way of saying that Canelo brings more money and noteriety to the table. Of course the WBO specifically expresses their decision as being “in the best interest of boxing.”
Avtandil Khurtsidze will have 10 days to appeal the decision, but hey, good luck with that...