By Sean Crose
In order to understand just how prominent a boxing writer ESPNs Dan Rafael is, one need only glance at the endless barrage of criticism other boxing writers fire his way across the internet. Everything from the man’s attitude to his weight is employed as a source of scorn and mockery. I write this not to defend or attack the man, however, but rather to illustrate a point: that Dan Rafael is relevant in the boxing business. If he weren’t, no one would care to attack him.
Make no mistake about it, when Rafael posts something, people take notice. And what he posted the other day was something worth noting indeed. In a blog titled “Canelo Headed Back To HBO?” Rafael quoted Golden Boy Promotions vice president Eric Gomez as saying that Canelo Alvarez will not do the pay per view thing his next fight. What’s more, Gomez (via Rafael) claimed that Alvarez is open to fighting on HBO.
So what did Rafael make of all this? “It leads me to believe,” he wrote, “without question, that Alvarez is likely headed back to HBO for his next fight.” But that wasn’t all. “I believe,” Rafael added, “it would be part of a deal that would also lock Alvarez into HBO for multiple fights.” One of those fights, of course, would possibly be a superbout with current middleweight king, Miguel Cotto.
Make no mistake about it, the Cold War between HBO and Golden Boy is melting faster than most would have probably predicted now that Golden Boy head honcho Oscar De Lay Hoya has shown longtime CEO Richard Schaefer the door. First came the stunning news of this November’s Bernard Hopkins – Sergey Kovalev fight. And now this.
It’s almost worth wondering at this point if Showtime, HBOs great rival, will now have to work exclusively with Al Haymon fighters (Alvarez isn’t part of Haymon’s vast stable). If that ends up being the case, Showtime may well have a problem on its hands. For, although Haymon has some of the biggest names in the game at his disposal, it’s been argued that he employs a low risk, high reward strategy for his star fighters.
That may work fine with boxing’s new breed of fan, who prefers the vicarious thrill of watching big names get big paychecks for little work, but it might not wash with the rest of boxing’s paying audience. If a scenario arises where HBO is presenting bouts like Alvarez-Kirkland while Showtime is still feeding the world bouts of the Garcia-Salka variety, Showtime Boxing is going to start looking like a joke.
Of course Rafael made it clear that Showtime is still in the running to broadcast Alvarez’ next fight and that the network might indeed cough up the money to do so. It’s common knowledge around the fight world, however, that an Alvarez-Cotto fight is a tantalizing possibility…and Cotto’s an HBO man. In short, the most lucrative fight out there for Alvarez at the moment might be a match with Cotto, a guy who’s pretty much been using HBO as his home.
Boxing being boxing, however, one truly never does know how things may turn out. Perhaps a potential Alvarez-HBO deal will fall through. Perhaps either Alvarez or Cotto will be stunned in their upcoming fights. Perhaps the unthinkable will happen and Haymon will make amends with HBO (hey, I said it was unthinkable).
The one predictable thing about the fight game, of course, is that it’s forever unpredictable. Who, after all, ever thought Hopkins would be fighting Kovalev this fall? Who, furthermore, had ever dreamed that a kid named Chris Algieri would somehow be in the main event on a pay per view card? Boxing may be a strange business, but right now a possible HBO-Alvarez deal doesn’t seem strange at all.