NEW YORK (AP) — Canelo Alvarez is boxing’s new $365 million man.
Alvarez has signed an 11-fight deal that his promotional company says is the richest athlete contract in sports history, guaranteeing the Mexican middleweight champion at least that much money to have his fights shown on the sports-streaming service DAZN, beginning with his next bout.
Alvarez will move up in weight to challenge WBA super middleweight champion Rocky Fielding on Dec. 15 at Madison Square Garden.
A massive moneymaker when he fought on pay-per-view, Alvarez will be able to be seen for much cheaper through the subscription service that launched in the U.S. in September and now features perhaps the two biggest figures in boxing in Alvarez and heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.
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“We have No. 1 and No. 2. They’re the two most important fighters in the world,” DAZN executive chairman John Skipper said. “Canelo fighting on DAZN, we believe that that will help us attract some of the other fighters, some of the other premier fighters.”
Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs) is coming off a victory over Gennady Golovkin in a middleweight showdown in September. That fight, like most of boxing’s biggest, was shown on pay-per-view. It cost $84.95 to be seen in high definition.
And while planning his next fight, Golden Boy Promotions also needed a place to put it. With HBO bowing out of boxing after this year, the company had talks with Showtime, ESPN and Turner Sports about televising Alvarez’s future bouts.
But Skipper made an aggressive offer for DAZN (pronounced Da-Zone) when he met with Golden Boy about two weeks ago and the deal was quickly finalized.
“John came with the best deal. John Skipper came, he wasn’t playing games,” Golden Boy President Eric Gomez said. “He said, our first meeting with him over two weeks ago, he came to our office and said, ‘I’ve got a blank check, I’m not leaving until we make a deal.’ And he put his money where his mouth is.”
Skipper said it wasn’t quite a blank check, but one that ensured Alvarez wouldn’t be taking a pay cut to leave pay-per-view. He said Alvarez’s last three fights generated 3.6 million buys and nearly a quarter of a billion dollars, making him someone who can be transformative to a subscription service focused largely — at least for now — on combat sports.
“So I’ve got to find those fans,” Skipper said. “They are going to want to watch his fights and they’re going to get to buy them for a lot less expensive than they did before.”
It will cost them $9.99 a month for a subscription in the U.S. Under the five-year partnership, Golden Boy also will put on up to 10 fight nights per year that will stream live on DAZN beginning in early 2019.
Gomez said Alvarez is committed to fighting 11 times during the deal and willing to fight any of the contenders at 160 or 168 pounds. Alvarez said for now his plan is to return to 160 after the bout against Fielding (27-1, 15 KOs), a British fighter who appeared significantly taller than Alvarez, who will be trying to win a title in his third weight class.
A third fight with Golovkin would be a natural after their draw and Alvarez’s narrow victory in the rematch, but there would be plenty more options at middleweight if they don’t meet again.
Whoever he ends up with, at least Alvarez knows now where it can be seen.
“I’ve always said that when one door closes another one opens and we’re very happy with this new alliance that we’ve made with DAZN,” Alvarez said through an interpreter. “Forget about what the price is, the amount of money that we’re making. The most important thing is that fans can enjoy this fight at a very low price.”