By: Hans Themistode
Canelo Alvarez had it all figured out. The four division world champion would return to the ring amidst a worldwide pandemic and take on a credible opponent in an empty arena.
Names such as WBO super middleweight titlist Billy Joe Saunders and WBA belt holder Callum Smith were at the top of his list. That aforementioned list however, didn’t meet DAZN’s criteria.
According to Dan Rafael and Mike Coppinger, the streaming company is only interested in green lighting “premiere” opponents for Alvarez. With that being said, opponents such as Saunders and Smith aren’t what DAZN would consider as marquee opposition.
Who they do consider main attractions for their star however, is surprising to say the least. MMA stars Jorge Masvidal and Khabib Nurmagomedov are names at the top of their wishlist. Also amongst that group would be the promoter of Alvarez in Oscar De La Hoya. The former six division world champion hasn’t fought an official boxing match since his one sided stoppage loss at the hands of Manny Pacquiao over a decade ago.
Still, with De La Hoya recently announcing that he will return to the ring at the age of 47, DAZN views his comeback as an opportunity to put on one of the biggest shows in the sport of boxing. Although no offer was officially on the table, De La Hoya seemed at least receptive to the idea of taking on his promotional company’s main star.
“I don’t know,” said De La Hoya to Chris Mannix several months ago. “Crazy, but not that crazy.”
“Canelo’s an amazing fighter. He’s the best. He’s the pound-for-pound champ. He hits like a mule. I don’t know, Chris, you’re throwing me in the fire here. But that’s a challenge that – you know, I never back down from anybody. But we’ll have to wait and see.”
For DAZN, the streaming company has struggled to produce any fresh contest amid COVID-19. With their subscription numbers suffering, the company views a bout that pits Alvarez against any of the aforementioned fighters as a great way to pull in viewers.
For what it’s worth, although De La Hoya is unsure of whether or not he would actually take on Alvarez and with Nurmagomedov fully focused on his MMA career, UFC star Jorge Masvidal not only welcomed a showdown with the Mexican star but he was damn there begging for it.
“He’s an animal,” said Masvidal during an interview with DAZN few a months ago. “I always like to push myself as much as I can and Canelo is that guy. He’s a fuc*ing beast. Everybody’s telling me that he’ll knock me out, this and that, and I’m telling everybody, No, watch and see. I have my own plans.”
Masvidal’s plans mirror that of DAZN, which would be to set up a huge crossover matchup that would generate the sort of buzz that Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor did in 2017.
While DAZN has made it clear that Masvidal, De La Hoya and Nurmagomedov are it’s preferences, the streaming company has also let it be known that a third contest with Gennadiy Golovkin would qualify as a top notch matchup that they would highly consider backing.
Alvarez and Golovkin though, haven’t always seen things eye to eye.
Both the Mexican star and Golden Boy promotions attempted to stage one final showdown with Golovkin earlier this year. Yet, it was Alvarez who was left at the altar as Golovkin switched his focus to his mandatory challenger Kamil Szeremeta.
Issues such as opponent selection and a reluctance in paying their star what is contractually obligated to him has led both sides to now resolve their issues in the courtroom as Alvarez filed a suit against DAZN, De La Hoya and Golden Boy earlier this week.