Boxing fans continue to be harassed by a seemingly bottomless pit of titles. If we were in the studio audience of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," she'd point wildly at us and shout, "You get a title! And you get a title! And you get a title!"
In boxing, we have super titles, regular titles, interim titles, emeritus titles and in-recess titles. There are pearl, diamond, silver and gold titles. International, youth and continental titles.
And now, ladies and gents, let's add yet another one to the pile: the WBC's new invention made up out of nowhere, the franchise title.
On Wednesday, the WBC stripped Canelo Alvarez of its middleweight world title -- with his permission and seeming cooperation -- and designated him the very first WBC franchise champion.
So what's it all mean? I will try to answer as best as I can, which is not always easy because boxing -- as great, compelling and dramatic as the competition can be inside the ring -- is often horrendous when it comes to sanctioning-body nonsense outside of the ring.
So, what does this really mean?
It means that Alvarez now has two major belts -- the IBF and WBA -- instead of three. He had hoped to collect all four major world title belts to become the undisputed middleweight champion, but now that has become more complicated thanks to WBC's ludicrous invention.
Can Canelo regain the WBC world title?
Yes. He could fight and defeat the winner of Saturday's bout between Jermall Charlo and Brandon Adams. Charlo, who had been the WBC interim titleholder (another disgrace, but that's for another day), was elevated to WBC world titleholder when Alvarez was given the tag of franchise champion.
Is the Charlo-Adams winner still one of Alvarez's mandatory challengers?
Apparently not, because one of the points the WBC made in announcing the franchise title was that its holder would not have such rigid mandatory defense obligations. That comes as no surprise because it's not a real world title.
If somebody defeats Alvarez, does he become the franchise champion?
No. According to the WBC, "the franchise champion is a special designation and status which the WBC may bestow to a current WBC world champion, who is also an elite boxer and who has achieved and maintains the highest of statures in the sport. ... The WBC may, upon a two-thirds vote of the board of governors, designate in each weight category one WBC franchise champion. A franchise champion shall enjoy special status with respect to his or her mandatory obligations, holding multiple titles and competing for titles of other organizations, as the WBC board of governors rules on a case-by-case basis."
Why did the WBC give this designation to Alvarez?
He has dumped WBC belts in the past, but the WBC wants to maintain a relationship with him because he's the biggest star in the sport and he is also from Mexico, where the WBC is based. To have him leave the WBC family again would be an embarrassment to the organization. So the organization gives him a new creation, eases up on his mandatory obligations and is able to continue to be associated with his fights and collect fat sanctioning fees.
The WBC spins it like this: "The WBC is bestowing that honor upon champion Alvarez due to his many accomplishments, which have positioned him as major worldwide attraction in boxing, and in light of his unquestionable boxing career linked to our organization."
How will this impact the prospect of a third Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin fight in the fall?
That fight is in talks, but whether it happens is not clear because there are issues, as usual. But whatever happens, the franchise championship tag given to Alvarez has zero to do with it.
Sanctioning bodies often do things bad for the sport they are supposed to protect and lift up. I have great respect for WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman, but he and I have strongly disagreed on this development in a series of emails we have exchanged in the past couple of days. When I asked him what was the point of adding more gobbledygook to boxing's title madness, here was his response, for better or worse: "Franchise is a new concept and I feel good about it. ... We are trying to provide an avenue to enhance boxing and to grow the industry. We are making a rule, a status, to bring clarity, not to confuse."
With all due respect, taking away the actual world title from the biggest star in the sport, who also happens to be perhaps the best fighter in the world and who is the highest-paid boxer in history, for no apparent reason is bad for boxing and the WBC. And giving him a title of franchise champion is a move for which the WBC deserves denigration and to be the butt of jokes. It does not enhance boxing. It does not grow the industry. It does not bring clarity. And it does confuse. But, hey, it's boxing. Championships for everyone!