By Ivan G. Goldman
Showtime and Golden Boy Promotions have brought the pay-per-view price for Canelo Alvarez-Erislandy Lara this Saturday down to $59.99 for high-def. The sum, $15 below the historic top, indicates they read the handwriting on the wall and didn’t like what they saw.
Cuban-born Lara, 19-1-2 (12), could probably load all his fans into an average-sized bus, which means generating a buzz is all up to carrot-topped Canelo, who’s still learning his way around the English language. That presents a marketing challenge. Cuban fighters who live in the U.S. tend to need a translator to order bacon and eggs.
Canelo, who turns 24 only a few days after the event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, is the most popular fighter in Mexico, and his star power reaches north, but so far it doesn’t burn bright enough to set the U.S. world on fire. He deserves credit for choosing this tough opponent, but he’s also toiling in a relatively weak division and already lost decisively to the best light middleweight in the world, Floyd Mayweather. Welterweight and light middleweight champion Floyd occasionally ventures up from 147 pounds when he likes both the price and his chances against the opponent.
Lara is yet another client of super-powerful, super-secretive manager-agent-advisor Al Haymon, which is supposed to be a big help to someone trying to break out of the herd of talented fighters the general public never heard of. However, Haymon’s list of clients is getting so long that it may have already begun to implode. In the U.S. the key to big money is HBO and Showtime, and Haymon has a lousy, almost nonexistent relationship with HBO. There’s a limit to how many Haymon fighters can fit on the Showtime cards.
Meanwhile, over at Golden Boy, which promotes Canelo, this will be its first big promotion without Richard Schaefer running the show. It’s not clear who’s stepping into the breach on this card. Schaefer famously quit last month, and Golden Boy, whose principal owner is Oscar De La Hoya, is seeking $50 million in damages.
Canelo is a hard puncher whose boxing skills keep improving. If he and Lara can put on a nice show that will definitely improve the outlook for Golden Boy, but clearly fight fans are displeased with the number of PPV dollars that are regularly extracted from them. No one at Showtime or within Mayweather’s entourage will release the numbers from his last outing on May 3, when he scored a majority decision over Marcos Maidana. These figures are way overdue. The executives who decide such matters have opted to shut their eyes and hope the question will go away.
Prior to the June 28 lightweight battle between Terence Crawford and Yuriokis Gamboa I – ahem – predicted that the contest, given away to all HBO subscribers, might be more exciting than Canelo-Lara. It turned into a Fight of the Year candidate, with Crawford knocking down a game, competitive Gamboa four times en route to winning by a 9th round stoppage.
It’s tough to generate interest for a fight with Golden Boy in turmoil and at odds with the Svengali who helped put the bout together. That would be Haymon, who’s apparently an ally of Schaefer. But that’s difficult to confirm because Haymon refuses to talk to the media or even let writers know where to find him. He keeps the location of his headquarters a secret.
Meanwhile, there are plenty of questions that need answering about the Mayweather-Maidana fight on May 3, which may or may not be followed by a rematch on Sept. 13. Floyd’s team objected to Maidana’s gloves, which had been approved by the Nevada commission. When it comes to the details surrounding Mayweather’s fights writers often rely on rumor, first because of the odd eternal silence of Haymon and also because his publicist, Kelly Swanson, almost never tells us anything worth knowing.
Anyway, back to those gloves. It’s rumored Maidana ultimately agreed to use pillowy10-ounce gloves versus Floyd’s 8-ounce model. I find that one hard to believe. Another rumor claims Team Mayweather paid Maidana off in exchange for a deal on the gloves and that the sum was equal to or more than Maidana’s actual purse. I find that one easier to believe.
If Sawnson, Haymon, or Showtime sports chieftain Stephen Espinoza want to answer questions on this and other topics I’m easy to reach on Facebook or Twitter.
` Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag, by New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman, was released in 2013 by Potomac Books, a University of Nebraska Press imprint. It can be purchased here.