By: Sean Crose
And so now things have gotten ugly. Canelo Alvarez has gone ahead and sued his promoter, Golden Boy Promotions, and the streaming outlet that’s contracted to run his fights, DAZN. Those of us who follow the sport of boxing closely knew there were issues in the air, but a lawsuit has a way of tacking an exclamation point onto matters. Things are bad, no matter how one looks at it. For Canelo is arguably the biggest attraction in boxing. The truth is that most of us weighing in on the situation don’t know all the details to make informed decisions about what’s going on. There are, however, things to be gleaned from what we know and read.
For starters, it looks as if DAZN may take its approach to boxing from the Mayweather-McGregor model rather than a model which argues the best fight the best. This isn’t to say the service sees boxing as entertainment more than sport…though this isn’t to say that isn’t the case, either. The service essentially slapped Canelo and boxing fans in the face last fall when it delayed the start of Canelo’s fight with Sergey Kovalev until a UFC pay per view card ended. When I asked DAZN about this, I essentially got a solidly unrepentant response.
Then there’s the reports that DAZN wants Canelo to fight UFC stars or a dangerously over the hill Oscar De La Hoya. These aren’t high level boxing matches. These are pop culture events. And Canelo has made it clear he’s not interested in being a pop culture figure. He’s not a publicity hound, plus – whether people want to believe it or not – the man regularly challenges himself in the ring. Names like Kovalev, Erislandy Lara, Gennady Golovkin, Miguel Cotto and, of course, Floyd Mayweather abound in his resume. In other words, Canelo’s legacy is important to him. Fights with UFC stars and boxers close to fifty year of age do nothing for a legacy.
Yet that may well be what DAZN wants. Which, of course, leads us to boxing’s fans, those who pay monthly or yearly fees for DAZN in order to watch quality matches. There might be clear evidence out there that DAZN doesn’t care much about those who pay to mainly watch boxing. Those who long to see fights featuring UFC, YouTube and Instagram stars look like they may be more enticing to DAZN brass. And that may be perfectly understandable in a business sense…but it’s not good news for boxing fans. Nor, if it’s true, is it good news for Canelo.