Canelo Alvarez gets WBC’s approval to fight Illunga Junior Makabu for cruiserweight title

Canelo Alvarez could chase a title in a fifth weight class.

At the WBC Convention on Wednesday in Mexico City, the organization approved the request of Canelo’s trainer and manager, Eddy Reynoso, to have Alvarez challenge Illunga Junior Makabu for the cruiserweight championship.

Alvarez, ESPN’s No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer, became undisputed champion at 168 pounds earlier this month with an 11th-round TKO of Caleb Plant. A win over Makabu would make Canelo (57-1-2, 39 KOs) a five-division champion.

Alvarez has never competed at cruiserweight, so Reynoso needed to petition the WBC to order the title fight. Now that the fight has been approved, negotiations can begin, and if no deal is struck, a purse bid will be ordered.

“I know … what he has done with the heavyweights he spars with, and that is why we asked for the fight,” Reynoso told ESPN Deportes’ Salvador Rodriguez. “We know that [Makabu] is strong, but Canelo can beat him. … Many may say that it is crazy, but they also said that it was crazy when Canelo was junior middleweight champion and we were looking for middleweights, super middleweight, light heavyweights.

“I have a lot of confidence in Canelo. He is very strong and has many qualities, and I know that he is going to win that fight.”

Alvarez, 31, fought once at 175 pounds, a November 2019 TKO victory over Sergey Kovalev to win a light heavyweight title. He unified titles at 154 pounds and 160 pounds before that.

The cruiserweight limit is 200 pounds, but the WBC recently introduced an 18th weight class — bridgerweight — with a limit of 224 pounds. In a corresponding move, the Mexico-based organization is reducing the cruiserweight limit to 190 pounds, the same weight when the division was introduced in 1979 before it was increased by 10 pounds in 2004.

Reynoso told Rodriguez there have been some offers to fight in Congo, Makabu’s birthplace.

“Let’s see if something can be arranged for that to happen,” he said. “It is one more challenge. Just as we took the challenges at 168 and 175 pounds, now we are going to cruiserweight.”

Makabu, ESPN’s No. 4 cruiserweight, has reeled off nine consecutive wins since he lost the title to Tony Bellew via third-round TKO in 2016. The 34-year-old resides in Johannesburg.

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