As previously reported, the World Boxing Association promoted Japan’s Ryota Murata to the status of "super" champion at the middleweight limit of 160-pounds.

The announcement comes a week after Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vacated the title.

Last month, Canelo made an official move to super middleweight and captured the WBC, WBA titles with a dominating twelve round unanimous decision over Callum Smith at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

Murata, the middleweight gold medalist at the 2012 London Olympics, became the WBA's "regular" middleweight champion in 2017.

The 34-year-old lost that belt in his second title defense against Rob Brant in October 2018, but regained the belt with a second round stoppage in their rematch in July 2019.

Murata admits that he's surprised with the WBA's decision to elevate his championship standing - considering he's been inactive since December 2019.

He hopes the new recognition can assist him with fighting one of the other beltholders - like IBF/IBO champion Gennadiy Golovkin, WBO champion Demetrius Andrade and WBC champion Jermall Charlo.

“It feels a little strange to receive this news when I haven’t been able to fight due to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Murata.

“But I take it positively, as it will give me a better shot at a title unification bout with a champion from another organization.”

According to the sanctioning body, they have the right to recognize a fighter as a super champion under special circumstances, adding that they consider Murata’s “career and record as a meritorious circumstance for the appointment.”

Murata has 16 wins with 13 knockouts and 2 losses in his professional career.

He becomes the third Japanese boxer to have the status of super champion with the WBA, after Takashi Uchiyama owned that belt in the super featherweight division and Hiroto Kyoguchi at light flyweight.