Fightful Boxing Newsletter (10/18): Canelo Alvarez Signs With DAZN, Billy Joe Saunders, WBSS Preview

Fightful Boxing Newsletter (10/18) Table Of Contents:

  1. Canelo Alvarez's Historic DAZN Deal (Page 1)
  2. Billy Joe Saunders Vacates WBO Middleweight Title (Page 2)
  3. USA Boxing Roundup (Page 3)
  4. UK Boxing Roundup (Page 4)
  5. Japan Boxing Roundup (Page 5)
  6. Matchroom Boxing USA/DAZN Boston Preview (Page 6)
  7. WBSS: Rodriguez vs. Moloney Preview (Page 7)

Canelo Alvarez's Historic DAZN Deal

“Today represents a major shift in OTT sports content. Until now, fans haven’t received the value from these platforms that they deserve. DAZN is here to completely change that.”

- John Skipper, DAZN Group Executive Chairman

What seemed to be a seemingly-impossible task for DAZN, securing the exclusive broadcast rights to a top American boxing star shortly after launching in the U.S., now comes the announcement of the biggest free agent signing in modern boxing history.

Canelo Alvarez, the current unified WBA "super," WBC and Ring Magazine middleweight champion, signed a five-year, 11-fight contract to fight exclusively on the DAZN streaming. What's more is that the contract is worth around $365 million, which would make it the single-highest contract for a pro athlete in the world.

“I’ve always said, when one door closes, another door opens. And we’re very happy with this new alliance that we’ve made with DAZN. Forget about the prices, the amount of money we’re making. The most important thing is that fans can enjoy this fight at a very low price. Thank you very much DAZN and Golden Boy, I’m very happy. For me it’s a challenge. It’s a new challenge to move up a division. We know the challenge we have in front of us and we’re going to train real hard to enter the history of Mexican boxing,” Alvarez said in a New York press conference on October 17.

It was opportune timing for DAZN, who benefited greatly from the demise of HBO Boxing. With HBO gone, it left Alvarez, whose contract with the network had already expired by the time of the signing, and many other boxers looking for a broadcast home to fight in the United States. There was no bigger free agent in the sport, and perhaps ever in this day and age, than Alvarez.

The new deal kicks off December 15, when Alvarez faces off against WBA "regular" super middleweight champion Rocky Fielding at Madison Square Garden. HBO had the right of first negotiation and a last-look provision for Alvarez's fight with Fielding, and the network made an offer for an HBO pay-per-view event, but it elected not to match the one made by DAZN.

But DAZN did not just get Golden Boy Promotions' golden goose in Alvarez, it got the entire Golden Boy roster. In addition to signing Alvarez, DAZN also reached a deal with Golden Boy Promotions that would, in the words of a press release sent to Fightful, "put on up to 10 high-caliber fight nights per year that will stream live on DAZN beginning in early 2019."

Putting Alvarez's deal aside, this essentially turns Golden Boy Promotions into a boxing company shifting its focus to internet streaming when it comes to broadcasting fight cards. Golden Boy is also in the middle of a multi-fight streaming deal with Facebook and there is the possibility of the company's deal with ESPN would not be renewed when it expires.

With the new deal, this gives several of Golden Boy's other top stars, such as Jorge Linares, current WBC super bantamweight Rey Vargas, David Lemieux, Joseph Diaz Jr., Vergil Ortiz, Ryan Garcia and many more a stable home to compete.

So how did the deal come to fruition? Well, the two key people in facilitating this deal were Oscar De La Hoya and Skipper. Skipper was brought in earlier this year to help lead DAZN's U.S. expansion and moments like these were why Skipper, who used to work for ESPN

Alvarez's deal is the richest athlete contract in sports history, eclipsing the 13-year, $325 million agreement that New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton signed in 2014 when he was with the Miami Marlins. Just for a comparison, here are some of the top contracts in other sports:

  • MLB: Giancarlo Stanton: 13 yrs/$325 million
  • NBA: James Harden: 6 yrs/$228 million
  • NFL: Andrew Luck: 6 yrs/$140 million
  • Soccer: Neymar: 5 yrs/$265 million

The announcement could have humongous ramifications for the rest of the sport. For starters, DAZN now has the biggest British boxing company in Matchroom Boxing, one of the biggest American companies in Golden Boy Promotions and the World Boxing Super Series, making the streaming service possibly the most diverse and boxing-heavy platform for fans and consumers in the United States.

As for any indirect effects, the biggest contract in sports will likely create a domino effect for any free agents to go and pursue DAZN as their next career destination. With Alvarez and Anthony Joshua being DAZN's biggest stars, other fighters will likely chase the money being thrown around and potentially further strengthen the already impressive roster that DAZN has.

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