Former world titlist Andrew Cancio signs multifight deal with Top Rank

Two months after being released by Golden Boy Promotions, former junior lightweight world titlist Andrew Cancio has signed a multifight deal with Top Rank, a company rich with talent in his weight class.

Top Rank announced on Thursday the expected signing that will bring Cancio's fights to ESPN platforms. Terms were not disclosed but Top Rank said he would likely have his first fight of the contract in April.

"I'm very grateful to begin the next chapter of my career with Bob Arum and the entire Top Rank team in my corner," Cancio said. "I look forward to returning to the ring in front of my army of supporters and am fully prepared to fight my way towards becoming a world champion again. Thanks very much to my team, particularly my manager, Ray Chaparro, who has always believed in me and has been incredibly supportive of my career and instrumental in the success I've achieved."

When Cancio became a free agent, he said he immediately reached out to Top Rank as well as to Premier Boxing Champions. Top Rank was the best fit, he said.

"I've known for a long time that Andrew is a world-class fighter and am very happy to begin working with Bob Arum and his outstanding team on our march towards another world title," Chaparro said. "I'd specifically like to thank Top Rank matchmaker Brad Goodman, who has worked diligently to welcome us to Top Rank. We both look forward to working closely with him in the future."

Cancio became one of boxing's feel-good stories in 2019. After becoming disillusioned with his career after suffering a knockout loss to Joseph Diaz Jr. in September 2016, Cancio retired. But he returned 19 months later and in his third fight back was given an unexpected opportunity to challenge 130-pound world titlist -- and huge favorite -- Alberto Machado last February. But Cancio hammered him with body shots and knocked him out in the fourth round to win the title in a major upset in front of his fans at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California, where Cancio is a major ticket-seller. Then, in an immediate rematch in June, Cancio battered him to the body again and knocked him out in three rounds.

Cancio had won the title and took part in the rematch all while maintaining his day job as a line worker for a Southern California gas company. He used work vacation days during training camp and fulfilled media obligations during his lunch hour.

Golden Boy then lined up Cancio (21-5-2, 16 KOs), 31, of Blythe, California, for his second title defense against mandatory challenger Rene Alvarado, whom he had stopped in the eighth round of a 2015 nontitle bout, and Cancio lost the belt by seventh-round knockout. Leading up to the fight, Cancio had been unhappy with Golden Boy for what he perceived as a lack of promotion. He believed Golden Boy was going to put him in the co-feature position on the high-profile Canelo Alvarez-Sergey Kovalev card in Las Vegas in November but instead the promotion gave the slot to rising lightweight star Ryan Garcia. Cancio mildly rebuked Golden Boy in the media prior to the bout and three days after Alvarado beat him, Golden Boy released him.

Top Rank has a wealth of quality fighters in the junior lightweight division and Cancio's signing gives the company even more depth and flexibility to make notable fights. Top Rank already promotes world titleholders Miguel Berchelt and Jamel Herrin, former world titlist Masayuki Ito, and former featherweight world titleholders Oscar Valdez and Carl Frampton, both of whom recently moved up in weight.

"Andrew Cancio is one of the very best fighters at 130 pounds, a hard-working young man who deserves another opportunity to fight at the sport's highest level," Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said. "He was a free agent, miraculously, and we didn't hesitate to make a deal with him and his team."