CANELO ALVAREZ has launched the next phase of his career and with it he might just have catapulted DAZN, a sports streaming service, to a new level of prominence in the USA.
The raw numbers of the deal the Mexican has signed with DAZN are vast – a five year, 11 fight deal worth at least $365 million.
That suffice to say is a lot of money.
But it’s a major breakthrough for DAZN. The streaming service only began operating in the USA in September, beginning with Anthony Joshua’s defence of the WBO, IBF and WBA heavyweight titles against Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium. A good show to open with of course, Joshua is the unified heavyweight champion of the world. But his fanbase, while significant, is based in Britain and Europe. Canelo Alvarez is the major name in Mexican and American boxing. Alvarez has been bringing in over a million pay-per-view buys a fight on HBO, albeit against Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr and Gennady Golovkin. But that does show how Canelo will bring with him the hefty number of new subscribers that DAZN needs, especially as their service comes at a cost of $9.99 a month for all the shows on the platform, comparing favourably to the price tag of around $80 for a one-off pay-per-view.
“I’ve always liked a challenge, and this is yet another challenge in my career,” said Alvarez. “Being part of this historic deal will require me to prepare myself even more and offer fans even better performances. At the same time, I am humbled to be selected to lead this new vision for the sport of boxing, which will without a doubt be for the benefit of the fans.”
It’s big news for DAZN, which thanks to Canelo will take a prominent place among the sport’s broadcasters in the USA, alongside ESPN which screens Top Rank’s excellent run of fights, including Terence Crawford who reportedly brought in 2.7 million viewers against Jose Benavidez last weekend, and Fox and Showtime who will work with Al Haymon’s extensive network of fighters.
As well as Canelo, DAZN will have 10 other Golden Boy Promotions fight nights, as well as the sequence of bills Matchroom USA are staging. “This is huge for boxing, huge for Canelo and huge for Golden Boy,” promoter Oscar De La Hoya said. “We are committed to making this sport as accessible as possible and at an affordable price for all the fans. My dream has been to make boxing a sport for all. DAZN has the perfect platform to make this dream come true, and with the biggest star in the sport at the helm of this journey, I have no doubts that we will succeed in unimaginable ways.”
Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn declared, “This is a massive moment for the landscape of US boxing and also for DAZN. DAZN is now home to the two biggest stars in the sport in AJ and Canelo and this really is just the beginning. With 32 Matchroom Boxing shows, AJ, Canelo, Golden Boy Promotions, World Boxing Super Series and Bellator in just a few short months DAZN has established itself as the home of fight sports in the US. If you want to fight AJ or Canelo then you have to be with DAZN and with Demetrius Andrade fighting for the WBO world middleweight title this weekend and Danny Jacobs [also promoted by Matchroom, though his next bout will be on HBO] fighting for the IBF middleweight world title next weekend, DAZN is paving the way for huge match ups.”
He added, “For all the naysayers this is just the start and opens the floodgates for others who have been warned away – this is the revolution of US boxing and it’s open season.”
Canelo had been the key figure in HBO’s boxing output. He might have had a last outing with the network but, with HBO announcing they were ‘pivoting away’ from the sport by the end of this year, Alvarez has leapt on to a new platform. HBO was once the standard bearer of boxing broadcasting. With a couple more fights left to go, by 2019 boxing on HBO will be no more. “Once upon a time we were a promising kid. Then a challenger. Then a champion. A great champion. A long-time champion. And then a has-been who finally retired,” their former commentator Larry Merchant said. “So long, champ.”
It all heralds change in the industry and by signing this multi-fight deal, at 28 years old, Alvarez has pledged the peak years of his career to a new player in the market. It’ll be fascinating to see what direction that takes him in. Gennady Golovkin would have to chase him to DAZN, if he’s going to hunt down a third fight with his great rival. Canelo is now in a strong position. In 2017 the controversial draw with Alvarez saw Golovkin retain his WBC, IBF and WBA middleweight titles. Canelo’s failed drug tests saw their rematch then postponed to September 2018 as Alvarez served out a mere six month ban and Golovkin was stripped of his IBF belt as he waited on Canelo. Alvarez scored a hard-fought points win over the Kazakh to win the WBC and WBA middleweight titles. Now Canelo has plenty of options, including the third fight with Golovkin. But there are also potential unification fights for him at middleweight, with Demetrius Andrade boxing for the WBO title, which Billy Joe Saunders has vacated, on October 20 on DAZN. If Danny Jacobs can win the vacant IBF middleweight against Sergey Derevyanchenko on October 27, Jacobs’ promoter Eddie Hearn will also try to put him in the frame for a fight with Canelo.
But Alvarez’s immediate future sees him step up to super-middleweight to box WBA ‘regular’ titlist Rocky Fielding on December 15 at Madison Square Garden, which will be the Mexican’s first outing on DAZN.
Whatever happens Alvarez is the most highly paid boxer in the sport today. That though might prompt a move from Floyd Mayweather, who was the most highly paid athlete in the world and has never been one to share the limelight. Mayweather’s pay-per-view spectacles against Manny Pacquiao, in 2015, and Conor McGregor last year netted him hundreds of millions of dollars.
Mayweather remains the only man to have beaten Canelo. He outpointed the Mexican in 2013. Alvarez would love to fight Mayweather again, telling DAZN, “I think it’s one of the things I want to strike from my record. I think that it’s one of the thorns I want to take out of my side.”
But their rivalry looks likely to remain a business stand off. Floyd Mayweather has once again floated the possibility of a comeback, against Manny Pacquiao and even answering a call out from Khabib Nurmagomedov, the UFC fighter who recently beat McGregor. But there is every indication that if he does fight again it would be televised by his regular partner Showtime. The one wish Canelo might not get is that Mayweather rematch.