So where will Canelo Alvarez land?
Last week’s news that HBO Sports would be getting out of the boxing business after 45 years had some far-ranging ramifications. First and foremost, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, the most valuable property in boxing and its biggest (and perhaps only) pay-per-view draw is now essentially a free agent of sorts.
While Golden Boy Promotions handles this career, Alvarez – coming off his momentous rematch victory over Gennady Golovkin – is now in the enviable position of being out in the open market, in terms of a television deal, while in the physical prime of his career.
This is Alex Rodriguez hitting free agency in 2001.
However the news of HBO’s departure from the sport was a bit of a shock to Gomez.
“Very surprised, very sad. They’re the strongest brand in boxing,” said Gomez over the weekend. But in truth, HBO WAS the strongest brand but that hasn’t been the case in quite a while. “It’s pretty much all I’ve ever known ever since I was a kid. I’m 45 years old; they started when I was born. But the saying goes: One door closes and three or four open.”
And the signs on those doors read, “ESPN,” “Showtime” and “DAZN,” who are all eager to acquire the services of Alvarez and the checkbooks are wide open. “Boxing is more prominent now on different platforms than ever before. It’s really, really strong, right now,” said Gomez. “There’s a lot of opportunities out there. It’s very sad; it’s very somber that (HBO) is leaving. That’s the feeling that I have but, look, they make their decisions and we have to live by them.”
Truth of the matter is the timing of this decision couldn’t have come at a better time for Golden Boy and Alvarez because HBO’s commitment to boxing had been waning for quite some time, while rival Showtime is putting more resources into its boxing franchise and ESPN has a renewed commitment to the game. And Golden Boy needs to be aligned with a network that will broadcast enough shows to service its other clients (such as Jorge Linares) and help develop Vergil Ortiz Jr. and Ryan Garcia, as they work their way up the totem pole.
Currently the way the business works is that every major promoter has an alliance with a particular network or platform. Last year Top Rank cut an exclusive deal with ESPN. The Premier Boxing Champion boxers of Al Haymon are linked to Showtime and, soon, FOX. Matchroom Boxing is aligned with SKY Sports in the UK and DAZN internationally. Golden Boy had been the main content provider, for the most part, for HBO, with Alvarez as its centerpiece.
Nowadays as fighters sign with a promoter (like Danny Roman and Thompson Boxing Promotions did with Matchroom Boxing/DAZN), they are also making sure they are on a particular network or platform.
What’s taking place with Canelo has occurred in the past. Mike Tyson and Floyd Mayweather Jr. were both were staples of HBO, wound up on Showtime and continued to do robust pay-per-view numbers. However back then, the choices were basically limited to those two premium cable outlets. These days there are more options to choose from and the television landscape has changed greatly, with streaming platforms becoming more prevalent.
And get this: It turns out boxing isn’t dying.
“It’s changing and I think it’s becoming more mainstream. It’s starting to rival some of these other sports out there,” said Gomez, who pointed out that entities not currently in the boxing business have reached out to them. “If you see what we’ve been able to do with these big pay-per-views and the money we’ve been able to generate, I mean, we’re generating money you don’t generate in other sports and that’s boxing at its highest levels.
“If you do boxing at its highest levels, it’s very, very lucrative and it’s attractive.”
And “lucrative” and “attractive” are two words that could be used to describe Alvarez.
Isaac Dogboe, the current WBO 122-pound king, has signed a long-term deal with Top Rank. His next appearance on ESPN comes on December 8…Dusty Hernandez Harrison will be returning to the ring on December 1, in Washington D.C…Hearing that the rematch between WBO super middleweight beltholder Gilberto Ramirez and Jesse Hart will take place in mid-December…Is it really going to rain this week in Southern California?…Patrick Mahomes, of the Kansas City Chiefs, has already become must-see television…Speaking of HBO, I thought this past season of “Insecure” was excellent, while “Ballers” jumped the shark. (Yeah, I quit watching.)…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.