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Canelo Calls The Shots in Tug-of-War with DAZN

When streaming service DAZN spent $365 million to sign Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, the wannabe “Netflix of Sports” was hoping it was on track to a cornering of the US boxing market. With the Mexican superstar as a building block, big things were going to happen.

Well, things haven’t exactly worked out like that.

DAZN and Alvarez have bickered, battled, and engaged in an ugly tug-of-war over conflicting career plans for the fighter.

The first big-time beef came when Alvarez balked at facing middleweight rival Gennady Golovkin in a part three of their heated series. The streaming service had spent more than $100 million in signing Golovkin to a multi-fight deal, primarily in hopes of being able to stage that big Canelo-GGG showdown to attract subscribers. But Alvarez was not onboard with the idea.

The multi-division champ still harbored bad blood when it came to the Kazakh slugger. He refused to share the ring with him again. He refused to give him a third chance to try and beat him.

And, because of a poorly-worded contract that only obliged Alvarez to face “top level” opposition, DAZN couldn’t force the fighter’s hand. They couldn’t really dictate who he faced, as long as the opponent was “top level.”

The two sides compromised on light heavyweight champ Sergey Kovalev for Alvarez. DAZN clearly had ideas of revisiting talks for a Golovkin fight. Alvarez obviously didn’t share those ideas.

After Alvarez stopped Kovalev to become a four-division world champ, he moved on to exploring other possible foes. Golovkin wasn’t a priority, no matter how much DAZN nudged him in that direction.

UK champ Billy Joe Saunders was rumored to be the opponent for Alvarez’s Cinco de Mayo fight date this year. Another UK champ, Callum Smith, seemed to be the backup. Russia’s Sergiy Derevyanchenko was also in the mix.

And then Covid-19 hit.

Alvarez lost his May date due to the sports shutdown. And now, just about a month away from his usual Mexican Independence Day weekend date in September, it looks like he’s going to lose that one as well.

DAZN has reportedly been trying to secure a fight date for Alvarez, but things haven’t gone well. The streaming service wanted Alvarez to accept a pay cut for his next fight. How much below his approximately  $35 million is not known. What IS known, though, is that Alvarez and his team were not in agreement.

Alvarez’s people are now talking about fighting overseas to broaden his international appeal. DAZN, meanwhile, just wants him back on their schedule. They want their most marketable asset to help recapture some of the subscriptions lost during the pandemic shutdown.

Canelo, however, seems to be in no rush to return. Sitting out the rest of the year is a luxury he has that his broadcaster doesn’t.

Whatever the case, it’s clear that Alvarez has the upper hand in all of this.

Paul Magno
Paul Magno has over forty years of experience in and around the sport of boxing and has had his hand in everything, from officiating to training. As a writer, his work has appeared in several online publications, including Yahoo Sports, Fox Sports, FightHype, Max Boxing, Boxing.com, Inside Fights, The Boxing Tribune, The Queensberry Rules, and Premier Boxing Champions. You can reach him at: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com
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