Canelo Alvarez’s plans for 2017 are centered on an eventual fight with middleweight king Gennady Golovkin in September. He is expected to fight at least once at 160 pounds before that fight, and may end up fighting WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders.
ESPN’s Dan Rafael reported that the WBO has installed Canelo as the mandatory challenger to the title that is currently held by Saunders.
Prior to this ruling, Avtandil Khurtsidze was ranked #1 at middleweight by the WBO, and also requested to be installed at Saunders’ mandatory.
Ultimately, the WBO decided on Canelo (48-1-1, 34 KOs) due to his star power and his resume of victories over high-caliber fighters like Erislandy Lara and Miguel Cotto.
Alvarez held the middleweight title before moving down to junior-middleweight last year. However, he fought those bouts at a catchweight of 155 pounds.
The Mexican star Canelo’s next fight will likely take place on Cinco de Mayo weekend. While there have been talks about a catchweight fight with fellow Mexican Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., which would require a catchweight north of 160 lbs.
If that fight is not made, it is likely that Canelo will pursue the fight with Saunders. If Canelo beats Saunders and becomes the WBO middleweight champion, it adds an extra element to a potential super-fight with Golovkin.
"We haven’t decided yet what we want to do," Golden Boy president Gomez told ESPN. "We’ll make a decision after the holidays. It’s looking more and more like we’re going to wait for Canelo’s next fight until May. We don’t want to take any chances with his hand. You have to be careful. We want to make sure it’s 100 percent. The doctor hasn’t given him clearance yet. He’ll go see the doctor after Christmas.
"If we don’t pursue the mandatory with Saunders, there are a couple of other options."