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)
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Lauren Murphy Set For UFC 266, More Fights Announced | Fight Announcement Roundup

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.

Billy Joe Saunders Vacates WBO Middleweight Title

After the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission rejected Billy Joe Saunders' application to have a boxing license for his October 20 fight against Demetrius Andrade, Saunders has vacated his WBO middleweight title.

The announcement comes after Saunders failed a drug test for the banned substance oxilofrine in a drug test several weeks ago, but the results were announced in late September. The Massachusetts commission then ruled on October 9 that Saunders will indeed not get licensed to fight Andrade and so Andrade will now fight Walter Kautondokwa on October 20.

Below is an excerpt of the statement from promoter Frank Warren making the announcement and in the statement, it was said that Warren and Saunders plan to take this ruling to the Supreme Court. The statement was shortly deleted from original site with the link only leading to a page stating "Statement to follow:"

"Because of his mental anguish brought about by this case and out of respect for the WBO, Billy-Joe will with a heavy heart relinquish his world title, whilst this issue is in the process of being resolved.

Legal proceedings will then be issues against the MSAC following the Supreme Court hearing. The MSAC in their refusal to grant a licence to Billy-Joe have benefited his scheduled opponent, Andrade, who hails from nearby Rhode Island and who will now fight for a vacant title against the next ranked Namibian Walter Kautondokwa."

Below is a tweet of the full statement from Warren regarding the situation before it got deleted:

WBO President Francisco Valcarcel then released a statement shortly after Saunders' announcement. In that announcement, he formally named the fight between Andrade and Kautondokwa will be for the vacant title.

Shortly after a now-deleted statement from promoter Frank Warren said Saunders would be vacating his WBO middleweight title after his positive test for oxilofrine was announced, the WBO issues its own statement.

In the WBO statement, penned by Valcarcel, it confirmed that Saunders is no longer the middleweight champion and that the upcoming fight between Demetrius Andrade and Walter Kautondonkwa on October 20 will be for the vacant belt. The statement, which can be read below, added that Valcarel will be going to the WBO Executive Committee to talk about a possible six-month suspension for Saunders.

“B.J. Saunders has voluntarily vacated the WBO Middleweight Title, and publicly apologized for his violation of the Massachusetts Athletic Commission’s anti-doping regulations”.

“Therefore, the clash between Demetrius Andrade and Walter Kautondonkwa scheduled for October 20th will now be for the vacant World Crown”.

“Also, I will recommend to the WBO Executive Committee that Saunders receives a six month suspension for his transgression”.

The announcement officially ends Saunders' reign as the middleweight champion at nearly three years. Saunders won the title in late 2015 when he defeated Andy Lee, but has only made three successful title defenses with wins over Artur Akavov, Willie Monroe Jr. and David Lemieux. His most latest title defense was last December when he scored a wide unanimous decision win over Lemieux. Saunders was supposed to defend his title on two occasions against Martin Murray, but both times, the fight fell through due to Saunders getting injured.

Originally, the fight between Andrade and Kautondokwa was going to be for an interim title while Saunders tried to appeal to the WBO in order to keep the title. With Saunders vacating the title, this means the two boxers set to compete on October 20 will get a chance to fight for the full title.

The fight will headline a Matchroom Boxing card at the TD Garden in Boston with the full card being streamed in the United States and in Canada on the DAZN streaming service.

USA Boxing Roundup

- WBO bantamweight champion Zolani Tete is now being trained by Floyd Mayweather Sr. as he awaits his opponent for the World Boxing Super Series semifinals. The elder Mayweather now has two fighters he's training competing in the WBSS semifinals. The other fighter is Andrew Tabiti, who is the WBSS cruiserweight semifinals.

- The next Matchroom Boxing USA card streamed exclusively on DAZN looks like it will take place in Atlantic City on November 17. As for the card itself, promoter Eddie Hearn said there will be two title fights as well as the following fights: Brandon Rios vs. Ramon Alvarez, Gabriel Rosado vs. Luis Arias, as well as Ricky Burns and Anthony Sims Jr. competing in separate fights.

- Undefeated junior welterweight prospect Juan Heraldez’s next fight is set. Heraldez will face off against Maynard Allison in an eight-round card on an upcoming Mayweather Promotions card on October 27th inside Sam’s Town Live.

- Junior welterweight Kenneth Sims, Jr. will be back in action this Saturday night when he takes on Andrew Rodgers in a six-round bout at The McBride Hall in Gary, Indiana. Sims will be back in the ring for the first time since winning a split decision over previously undefeated Montana Love on July 20 in a bout that was nationally televised on ShoBox: The New Generation on Showtime.

- First reported by the New York Daily News, Marcus Browne has been arrested for allegedly choking his ex-girlfriend, his third arrest involving her. The undefeated light heavyweight attacked the 30-year-old victim, the mother of his daughter, during an argument inside her Park Hill Ave. apartment in Clifton, S.I., the morning of September 27, prosecutors charge. Browne posted $2,500 bail and was released and his lawyer stated that Browne is denying the allegations.

- Featherweight prospect Ruben Villa improved to 14-0 as a pro over the weekend with a wide unanimous decision over Miguel Carrizoza in Salinas, California. Villa, who won the WBO Youth featherweight title earlier this year, got the unanimous decision victory after all three judges scored the fight 80-72 in favor of Villa.

UK Boxing Roundup

- Although we are six months away from the April 2019 Wembley Stadium show headlined by Anthony Joshua, one former opponent said he would likely be fighting on the undercard. Alexander Povetkin is likely to fight on the undercard of the April 13 event, but obviously it won't be against Joshua. On a side note, David Allen, one of the most charismatic heavyweight boxers today and current mandatory challenger to the British title, has said that he wants to fight on that Wembley Stadium card as well.

- In an interview with PBC, James DeGale said the following on Chris Eubank Jr: “He struggles every time he steps up in competition. He’s been calling me out since he was an amateur, so I will finally be getting a chance to use my skills and experience to outclass him and to shut him up.” It seems to be about as solid evidence as any that DeGale vs. Eubank Jr. is the supposed "big fight" DeGale promised for December. In the United States, this fight won't attract much attention, but it should be a decently big fight in the United Kingdom, which is what the fight will be marketed to anyway.

- JJ Metcalf will face Liam Williams in a domestic junior middleweight weight fight on the undercard of the Josh Warrington vs. Carl Frampton fight for the IBF featherweight title. The card will take place December 22 at the Manchester Arena in Manchester. In other news regarding the undercard, promoter Frank Warren has stated that Jason Welborn has vacated his British middleweight title. Mark Heffron will now challenge for the belt against an opponent to be named later on that same undercard.

- In an interview with IFL TV, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn stated he would ideally like to make a fight between Joshua Buatsi and Hosea Burton for at least one title, but that would partially fall on what Callum Johnson. Although Johnson unsuccessfully challenged for the IBF light heavyweight world title on October 6, he is still the British and Commonwealth champion. The possibility of Buatsi vs. Burton would depend on whether or not he vacates those titles. If he does and the fight gets made, it could potentially land in December.

- Anthony Fowler could potentially fight Michael Zerafa for the Commonwealth 154-pound titles at the end of the year. The fight could either take place at a NXTGEN show or on the undercard of Dillian Whyte's December 22 fight in London. Although Whyte has yet to find an opponent, the betting favorite to land the fight would be Dereck Chisora, who recently signed a promotional deal with David Haye's company.

- Two-time WBO featherweight champion Scott Harrison, who hasn’t fought since a loss to Liam Walsh in 2013, has signed with Lee McAllister’s Assassin Boxing Promotions and Management company. Harrison will be looking to win a third world title.

- Iain Butcher will fight Ukashir Farooq in the main event of an MTK Global show in Glasgow, Scotland on November 30. The fight will be for the British bantamweight title. Also announced for that card is Tyrone McKenna vs. Lewis Benson and Peter McFonagh vs. Kieran Smith for the WBC International Silver junior middleweight title.

Japan Boxing Roundup

- It was announced earlier in the week that online streaming service Abema TV will be the national distributors for the interim WBC super bantamweight title fight between Tomoki Kameda and Abigail Medina. The fight will take place at Korakuen Hall on November 12.

- After winning the vacant WBO super featherweight title in late July, Masayuki Ito has been silent when it comes to when his first title defense will take place. Not anymore. Ito revealed to the press earlier in the week that he will defend his title in December although no opponent was named by the champion as well as a venue and exact date. There are rumors making the rounds that he will be involved in the end of year Fuji TV supercard, with Evgeny Chuprakov, the No. 1 super featherweight in the WBO rankings, being a likely opponent for Ito.

- On October 15, the East Japan Boxing Association announced their latest monthly award winners and it was genuinely one of the best trios we've seen winning the awards. The MVP for the month was Takuma Inoue, who defeated Mark John Yap in a WBC bantamweight title eliminator. The fighting spirit award was won by Ryo Sagawa, who earned the award for his upset win against former world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto on September 11. The State of the Art award, otherwise known as the Newcomer award was won by Ginjiro Shigeoka who defeated Sanchai Yotboon in his debut fight. The three award winners will be involved in a ceremony on December 3 at Korakuen Hall.

- WBO Asia Pacific light flyweight champion Reiya Konishi revealed that he would be fighting again on December 1 at the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium against an opponent to be named at a later date.

- For those unaware, there are actually two national junior middleweight champions. The actual champion is Nobuyuki Shindo, who has been injured since his title win back in May when he damaged his hand. The injury to Shindo lead to Akinori Watanabe becoming the interim champion winning the belt in August. With the 2019 Champions Carnival fast approaching, Shindo and Watanabe are going to unify the titles on December 20. The winner of the December 20 bout will face mandatory challenger Hironobu Matsunaga in 2019.

- Takeshi Inoue, who was previously ordered to fight Julian Williams in an IBF junior middleweight title eliminator, has been linked to a possible fight with WBO world champion Jaime Munguia. Munguia is likely fighting either on December 8 or 15 and is currently looking for an opponent. There are reports indicating that Inoue might get the nod to fight Munguia, but that is still yet to be determined.

- Japanese national lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino will defend his title against Kazumasa Kobayashi on December 13. The fight will take place at Korakuen Hall on a Diamond Glove, meaning the top fights will likely be televised in Japan on tape delay on Fuji TV.

- Former WBO minimumweight champion Ryuya Yamanaka took part in a retirement ceremony on October 13 to officially end his career. Yamanaka retired back in August due to suffering from a subdural hematoma.

Matchroom Boxing USA/DAZN Boston Preview

The second Matchroom Boxing USA card streamed exclusively on DAZN is taking place at the TD Garden in Boston on October 20.

The main event underwent a big change as Demetrius Andrade will now fight Walter Kautondokwa for the vacant WBO middleweight title. Originally, Andrade was supposed to fight Billy Joe Saunders, but after Saunders failed a drug test several weeks ago, he was denied a license and then vacated the belt.

But with the title vacant, Matchroom Boxing sought to keep Andrade in the main event and fight for the belt. As for the opponent, Kautodonkwa subbed in for Saunders. Regardless, Andrade will get a chance to become a three-time world champion and win his first middleweight title.

Kautondokwa, on the other hand, is looking to shock the world by upsetting Andrade. Funnily enough, if Kautondokwa wins the title, he would not be the first boxer from Namibia to win a world title in a foreign country at 33 years old.

The fight headlines a massive card that will also feature two other world title fights: Katie Taylor vs. Cindy Serrano for the unified WBA/IBF women's lightweight titles and Tevin Farmer vs. James Tennyson for the IBF super featherweight title.

Below is the full card, which will be streamed on DAZN starting at 4 p.m. ET:

  • Demetrius Andrade vs. Walter Kautondokwa: WBO Middleweight Title
  • Tevin Farmer (c) vs. James Tennyson: IBF Super Featherweight Title
  • Katie Taylor (c) vs. Cindy Serrano: Unified WBA/IBF Women's Lightweight Title
  • Kid Galahad vs. Toka Kahn Clary
  • Tommy Coyle vs. Ryan Kielczweski
  • Mark DeLuca vs. Walter Wright
  • Scott Quigg vs. Mario Briones
  • Niall Kennedy vs. Brendan Barrett
  • Daniyar Yeleussinov vs. TBA
  • Travis Gambardella vs. Joe Farina
  • Sean McComb vs. TBA

Tale of the Tape: Demetrius Andrade vs. Walter Kautondokwa

Demetrius Andrade:

Record: 25-0 (16 KO)

Age: 30

Height: 6'1"

Reach: 73.5"

Titles Won: WBO Junior Middleweight World, WBA Junior Middleweight World Titles

Notable Fights: Alantez Fox, Vanes Martirosyan

Walter Kautondokwa:

Record: 17-0 (16 KO)

Age: 33

Titles Won: WBO Africa Middleweight, IBF Continental Africa Middleweight Titles

Notable Fights: Obodai Sai

Tale of the Tape: Tevin Farmer vs. James Tennyson

Tevin Farmer:

Record: 26-4-1 (5 KO)

Age: 28

Height: 5'6"

Reach: 70"

Titles Won: IBF Super Featherweight World, NABF Super Featherweight Titles

Notable Fights: Billy Dib, Kenichi Ogawa, Jose Pedraza

James Tennyson:

Record: 22-2 (18 KO)

Age: 25

Height: 5'8"

Titles Won: Commonwealth (British Empire) Super Featherweight, EBU European Super Featherweight, WBA International Super Featherweight, BUI Ireland National Super Featherweight Title, BBBoC Celtic Featherweight Titles

Notable Fights: Martin Joseph Ward, Ryan Walsh

Tale of the Tape: Katie Taylor vs. Cindy Serrano

Katie Taylor:

Record: 10-0 (5 KO)

Age: 32

Height: 5'5

Titles Won: IBF Women's Lightweight World, WBA Women's Lightweight World, WBA Women's International Lightweight Titles

Notable Fights: Kimberly Connor, Jessica McCaskill, Anahi Esther Sanchez, Victoria Noelia Bustos

Cindy Serrano:

Record: 27-5-3 (10 KO)

Age: 36

Height: 5'6"

Titles Won: WBO Women's Featherweight World, UBF Women's Lightweight, IBA Women's Lightweight Titles

Notable Fights: Edina Kiss, Melissa Fiorentino

WBSS: Rodriguez vs. Moloney Preview

After the first two weekends of the second season in the World Boxing Super Series is spent in Japan and Russia, the tournament heads to the United States. The card, which will take place at the CFE Arena in Orlando, Florida, will have two more tournament quarterfinal fights: one in the bantamweight division and one in the cruiserweight division.

The bantamweight fight, scheduled to be the main event, will be an IBF world title fight between Emmanuel Rodriguez and Jason Moloney.

Rodriguez won the IBF title that was previously vacated by Ryan Burnett earlier this year with a dominant performance against Paul Butler. Not only did Rodriguez win the fight against Butler, but also did it in Butler's home country of England in dominant fashion. Although many would pick Zolani Tete, Naoya Inoue or Burnett as the favorites to win the tournament, Rodriguez is the dark horse and is capable of giving any of the aforementioned champions thanks to his impressive abilities to land effective punches to the body.

Much in the same breath is Moloney, who probably is the dark horse among the unranked bantamweight fighters. Moloney made headlines with an impressive win over former world champion Kohei Kono in his last fight and is the current mandatory challenger to the IBF title. Moloney certainly isn't lacking in any confidence as he told Fightful last month that he believes he has what it takes to win the IBF title, and perhaps the entire tournament, despite being a big underdog in the bigger picture.

"Yes, of course I’m going into this competition as an underdog and well I guess that’s fair considering I haven’t achieved what some of these guys have achieved just yet, but I’m happy with that. Proving people wrong is something I really enjoy doing! We are happy just working away, continuing to improve and doing whatever it takes to make sure we win this fight on October 20," Moloney said.

The winner of this fight will face the daunting task of facing Inoue, the tournament favorite by many pundits, in the semifinals.

The co-main event fight will be a cruiserweight tournament bout between Yunier Dorticos and Mateusz Masternak.

Dorticos returns to the WBSS after being eliminated in the semifinals of the first cruiserweight tournament last year. Dorticos, who was at one point the WBA world champion, is one of the favorites to win the whole tournament now that Murat Gassiev and Oleksandr Usyk are not a part of this tournament. Dorticos, an exciting knockout artist, lost to Gassiev in the semifinals earlier this year in an early contender for "Fight of the Year."

Although Dorticos was eventually overpowered by Gassiev, Dorticos proved he belonged among the top class of boxers at 200 pounds. Winning the second tournament would bring Dorticos back in the running to challenge for a cruiserweight world title and become a two-time champion.

Masternak has been a mainstay in the cruiserweight division, but never really broke through his glass ceiling and emerged as a true world-class fighter at 200 pounds. Masternak would win a number of regional titles, but when it came to facing the likes of Tony Bellew and Girgory Drozd, Masternak was never able to come through for the win.

By no means is Masternak not a quality fighter and is a borderline top-10 cruiserweight today. But if he stands to have a chance a challenging for a world title someday, he will have to defeat Dorticos, who is coming in just as hungry, if not more after being so close to getting a shot at the undisputed cruiserweight titles.

The two fights will be streamed in the United States and in Canada on the DAZN app, starting at 8 p.m. ET.

Tale of the Tape: Emmanuel Rodriguez vs. Jason Moloney

Emmanuel Rodriguez:

Record: 18-0 (12 KO)

Age: 26

Height: 5'6"

Reach: 66.5"

Titles Won: IBF Bantamweight World, WBC Latino Bantamweight, WBA Fedelatin Bantamweight, WBO Latino Bantamweight Titles

Notable Fights: Paul Butler

Jason Moloney:

Record: 17-0 (14 KO)

Age: 27

Titles Won: WBA Oceania Bantamweight, OPBF Silver Super Bantamweight, Commonwealth Bantamweight, WBA Oceania Super Bantamweight Titles

Notable Fights: Kohei Kono

Tale of the Tape: Yunier Dorticos vs. Mateusz Masternak

Yunier Dorticos:

Record: 22-1 (21 KO)

Age: 32

Height: 63"

Reach: 80"

Titles Won: WBA Cruiserweight World, Interim WBA Cruiserweight, WBC Latino Cruiserweight, USBA Cruiserweight, Interim WBA Fedelatin Cruiserweight, Interim WBC Latino Cruiserweight Titles

Notable Fights: Murat Gassiev, Dmitry Kudryashov, Youri Kayembre Kalenga

Mateusz Masternak:

Record: 41-4 (28 KO)

Age: 31

Height: 6'0"

Reach: 76"

Titles Won: WBO European Cruiserweight, WBA Intercontinental Cruiserweight, WBC International Silver Cruiserweight, EBU European Cruiserweight, IBO Intercontinental Cruiserweight, Interim WBC Youth World Cruiserweight Titles

Notable Fights: Youri Kayembre Kalenga, Tony Bellew, Grigory Drozd

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