Boss player: Canelo Alvarez signs with DAZN
Just as the dust had finally settled, intrigue in the middleweight division had already been drummed up in wake of a championship bout one month ago and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is still reaping the benefits.
Thursday night in Los Angeles, the Mexican superstar was formally given The Ring Magazine middleweight and pound-for-pound belts, for which he won by out-dueling Gennady Golovkin in their rematch last September but additional trophies, aside from the unified WBA and WBC middleweight titles Alvarez also won that night, can’t amount to the lucrative deal he struck two days ago.
“I’ve always liked a challenge and this is yet another challenge in my career,” said Canelo on signing with DAZN. “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.”
Alvarez, 50-1-2 (34), who was one of – if not, the biggest pay-per-view draws in boxing, signed an exclusive contract with the sports streaming service, which guarantees a sum of $365 million dollars and effectively takes him out of the pay-per-view business model. DAZN, an over-the-top service that premiered in the United States late last month, offers its subscription service for $9.99 a month. The news instantly made the 28-year-old from Guadalajara, Jalisco, one of the richest athletes in the world and the first of an 11-fight deal with DAZN will begin on December 15, when Alvarez strays into the super middleweight division to face Rocky Fielding in New York City.
“It’s easier,” Golden Boy Promotions President Eric Gomez told UCNLive.com about how this lucrative deal will be on their side for making fights. “It’s easier because it’s all guaranteed money and there’s additional money also. It’s a minimum – (Canelo)’s going to be able to make more money. Everyone is going to want to face him now and there’s the budget to do it.”
For all intents and purposes, Canelo’s next outing is nothing more than a stay-busy fight that will introduce his cavalcade of fans to DAZN. Fighting at 168 pounds against Fielding, 27-1 (15), is a small caveat that may captivate some and the same goes with Canelo fighting in the “Mecca of Boxing” – Madison Square Garden – for the first time but it squeezes in another date before the end of what has been a roller coaster year in 2018.
“It’s up to him. After this fight we’re going to see how he feels.” Gomez said about Canelo’s future. “We will sit down like we always do after every fight and he’ll decide what he wants to do. He can still make middleweight – that’s no problem for him – or he can go up and fight at super middleweight. It all depends how he feels. He took this fight because, during the (Julio Cesar) Chavez (Jr.) fight, he felt great and he told us. He said, ‘When I’m in camp and I get down to right around ’66 or ’65, I feel incredible. I feel my strongest; I feel so good.’ He looked great against Chavez, so that’s the reason why we did the fight with Fielding.”
Golden Boy Promotions – Alvarez’s promoter and owner of The Ring Magazine – also benefited greatly from Canelo signing with DAZN. As part of the five-year deal, Golden Boy will have up to 10 cards streamed live on DAZN, starting in 2019. Without Canelo, who knows if Golden Boy would’ve been able to garner a deal with DAZN, given its current roster of fighters alone, but here the company has a new outlook, as a whole.
In a world of unapologetic exaggerations, Canelo’s new deal with DAZN can be aptly described as groundbreaking. Nothing has ever preceded it and it also shows that the platform isn’t exclusive to one boxing promoter. While it’s the biggest domino to fall in boxing, it isn’t the only one, particularly in the middleweight division. This Saturday night, Ryota Murata, 14-1 (11), takes on Rob Brant, 23-1 (16), in Las Vegas, Nevada, live on ESPN+ (10:00 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT), and it very well may be a prelude to what is in store for another big 160-pound fight.
“I am happy to be a headliner but there is more to come,” Murata said at Wednesday’s media workout. “I think there are bigger and better fights for me. This is just a start.”
Murata is fighting to become the first-ever genuine middleweight champion from Japan, while already having to fight off the celebrity status that precedes the 32-year-old from Tokyo. If you ask any Japanese fan or reporter, he may tell you one surprising truth, when it comes to the 2012 Olympic gold medal winner. Drawing an average of 30 million domestic viewers in his last two fights, Murata is, without question, the biggest boxing star in Japan. And while his professional career through this weekend may be under the radar stateside, all that can swiftly change with one big opportunity that will surely be teased during Saturday night’s ESPN+ stream.
“It would be nice if it happens. It would be especially nice because it would be good for boxing,” Murata said about the idea of fighting former champion Golovkin. “I think it would be a war. I think it would be a real exciting fight.”
Tom Loeffler, Golovkin’s promoter, will be in attendance for the Top Rank card and presumably start early negotiations with Teiken – Murata’s promoter – should they be victorious, especially in the wake of Canelo’s historic deal with DAZN. Where Golovkin ends up post-HBO is just another interesting caveat in how all this middleweight madness shakes out. Golovkin still hopes to land a third fight with Canelo but the 36-year-old certainly has plenty of options, as he searches for more glory nearing the end of his career.
Murata-Brant isn’t the only important fight for the middleweight scene this Saturday night either.
Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade will take on Walter Kautondokwa in the main event of a Matchroom Boxing card in Boston, Massachusetts, for the vacant WBO middleweight title. The entire card from the TD Garden will be streamed live on DAZN (7:00 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT).
“I’m confident in myself and my abilities and everything that this training camp and this training team has put me through to be prepared to fight whoever comes my way,” Andrade said at a media workout this week. “When we get in there, we’ll make the proper adjustments that we need to get that belt.”
Andrade, 25-0 (16), was originally set to face Billy Joe Saunders, as the WBO’s No.1 contender, but the Brit was refused a license to fight in the state of Massachusetts in light of his positive drug test for Oxilofrine just weeks before the fight. Saunders was effectively stripped of his title by the WBO and Kautondokwa, 17-0 (16) – its No. 2-rated man at 160 pounds – steps into the fray largely unknown but with great opportunity to make himself an instant player with an unsuspecting upset.
“I know where the hunger is. I know what you need to prevail,” proclaimed Andrade, who hails from the New England area. “Boston Red Sox, they’re doing a great job right now. The Patriots, Bruins, Celtics…now it’s Demetrius Andrade’s time.”
Andrade, 30, who signed with Matchroom Boxing over the summer, has had a tumultuous pro career, to say the least, but starting with a victory on Saturday night, he can suddenly turn everything around and become a viable option for the 365-million dollar man DAZN just signed.
Next weekend on the 27th, the most intriguing middleweight match-up that is currently set will finally play out and, by then, a clearer view of the middleweight landscape will appear.
Live on HBO, Daniel “Miracle Man” Jacobs, 34-2 (29), and Sergiy Derevyanchenko, 12-0 (10), will fight for the vacant IBF middleweight title, which was relinquished by Golovkin over the summer for failing to defend against an IBF mandatory. Being caught in the web of a drawn-out Canelo rematch had much to do with that for Golovkin but regardless of how it came to be, the vacant belt is yet another sought-after bargaining chip in landing the big fight.
By October’s end, the landscape at 160 pounds may look a bit different than what it is today but, as Gomez mentioned when asked about the big names, he was inclined to mention the only one that will be calling all the shots going forward.
“There’s big names everywhere but the biggest name is Canelo, so all roads go through him.”