THE historic $365m contract Canelo Alvarez signed with DAZN through Golden Boy Promotions in 2018 is now history. It extended Alvarez’s deal with Golden Boy and was at the time the richest contract for a professional athlete. Two years later, with only three fights of the agreed 11 fought, Canelo Alvarez is a free agent.
Canelo, 30, has picked up $85m since signing the deal. Though he defeated Rocky Fielding, Daniel Jacobs and Sergey Kovalev while fighting in three weight classes, the Mexican grew increasingly unhappy with the lack of control he had over his career.
In September he filed a lawsuit for breach of contract against DAZN, Golden Boy Promotions and their CEO, Oscar De La Hoya, following failures to agree his next opponent. On Friday (November 6) a settlement was reached between all parties as reports surfaced that Alvarez is in talks to challenge IBF super-middleweight champion Caleb Plant – who fights under the Premier Boxing Champions [PBC] umbrella – on December 19.
Canelo’s lawyer, Gregory M. Smith stated: “The lawsuit has been resolved. Paperwork will be filed with the courts shortly. Canelo will be a complete free agent and will have no contracts with any network or promoter. He is glad to have the matter behind him and excited to control the rest of his career. [Manager and trainer] Eddy Reynoso will be announcing Canelo’s next event soon.”
Reynoso wrote on social media: “In my role as a manager and coach of Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, I allow myself to communicate to the boxing community and to all our fans, that starting today, November 6, ‘Canelo’ becomes a free agent, so we are ready to continue his boxing career.
“All this time we have been working hard in the gym with a lot of responsibility and discipline, to be in great physical shape and ready to fight this year and it will be!”
Alvarez, 53-1-2 (36), last fought in November 2019 when he knocked out Sergey Kovalev in 11 rounds to win the WBO light-heavyweight title.
Canelo was set to announce his fourth bout on DAZN, a May 2020 super-middleweight showdown with WBO boss Billy Joe Saunders in Las Vegas, when the coronavirus pandemic essentially shut the sport down in March.
What followed was chaos. Boxing News understands that DAZN were keen for Alvarez to work towards a fight with old rival Gennady Golovkin – also signed to DAZN – for a third time. There is unfinished business there after the rivals shared a controversial draw in 2017 before Alvarez – after serving a six-month suspension for failing a drug test – tightly outpointed “GGG” in the return a year later.
But Alvarez, never keen on a third Golovkin bout, tried to engineer a different route. It has been reported that DAZN were unwilling to honour their $35m-a-fight deal for a September bout with either Saunders or world 168lbs champion, Callum Smith. Instead, according to reports, DAZN would only approve Saunders or Smith if Canelo agreed to a pay cut.
With terms unable to be agreed and Canelo left without an opponent, the Mexican superstar took matters into his own hands and sought $280m, the remainder of his contract, from court action against DAZN and Golden Boy. The fighter insisted that his contract with Golden Boy did not allow DAZN to dictate who he fought. DAZN maintained the opposite.
According to the lawsuit, De La Hoya – Alvarez’s long-time promoter – would be personally liable for that remaining $280m.
All parties have now confirmed that an agreement has been reached and Canelo Alvarez is a free agent.
“The lawsuit was resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, and we wish Canelo the best going forward,” De La Hoya said in a statement. “In strong partnership with DAZN, we will continue showcasing our wide array of talent, including rising superstars like Ryan Garcia, Jaime Munguia and Vergil Ortiz Jnr, all of whom have the talent and potential to become the next biggest star in our sport.”
This has to be seen as a huge blow to DAZN and Golden Boy. Canelo, the sport’s leading star and cash cow, was a massive driver for both parties. If the fight with Plant goes ahead, it will likely see Canelo fighting on Showtime PPV, who have close links to PBC.
Whether they can match the humongous wages on the table at DAZN is up for debate, particularly during a worldwide pandemic, but it seems unlikely Alvarez will sign another long-term deal with anyone. In short, Canelo gets the outcome he wanted: Control.