Mancuso: Canelo Is Boxing Now; But Is He?

Wednesday afternoon at Madison Square Garden the entire face of boxing changed with a fighter and the direction of televising the sport.   DAZN and Matchroom Boxing are the new home for Alvarez, the WBC Middleweight champion who makes his debut at the Garden December 15th.

Though it won’t be Canelo Alvarez defending the middleweight title he took from Gennady Golovkin last month, and he won’t be seen on HBO. DAZN is the new streaming outlet for televised boxing and Alvarez is going after another championship at super middleweight.

And the new face of boxing, like him or not, is Canelo Alvarez. It’s no longer Floyd Mayweather Jr, or any of the other elite fighters that are seen on ESPN with Top Rank or Showtime and Fox with the PBC.

Plain and simple, a $365 million 11-fight deal for Canelo Alvarez that makes him the richest athlete in sports history is good cause to be that new face.  The competitive balance of the sport has changed with this deal as Alvarez will continue to be associated with Oscar De La Hoya, the former champion and his longtime promoter.

DAZN is the new Global Network for boxing and for Belator a part of combat sports. And there was talk Wednesday of DAZN venturing into other sports.  HBO is out of the boxing business when the calendar year concludes, so Canelo Alvarez got a deal and could not turn that down.

As Eddie Hearn, the multi billionaire and head of Matchroom Boxing from England said,“This is going to shake up the world.”

Obvious this deal changes the scope of boxing as there is lots of money to go around and Alvarez could be the first of many more names that could deflect from rival promoters. Money talks more than the titles that are worn. That is more obvious now with the deal that Canelo Alvarez has.

It’s no longer pay-per-view but a monthly or yearly subscription fee. And the only way to see Canelo Alvarez defend a title is subscribe to the DAZN Network. That speaks volumes because the last two fights combined for Alvarez against his rival, Gennady Golovkin, seen on HBO Pay-Per View combined over 4.5 million buys at $84.00 of U.S. currency.

“I believe today with this announcement you will  see the end of pay per view boxing in the U.S.,” Hearn said. “That is going to change boxing,  not just Canelo.”

Hearn also has the rights to Anthony Joshua, one of the heavyweight champions. Joshua fights before 80,000 or more fans in England and in time will be promoted outside of the UK. DAZN is advertised as a Global Network so in all probability that will occur.

Hearn said about Canelo Alvarez, who will be making his Garden debut on December 15, challenging Rocky Fielding for his WBA Super Middleweight championship, “We are getting started. You are going to expect a ripple effect. You have to be on DAZN to be a middleweight contender or to fight Canelo”

Credit: Yengere Luciano

Or you have to be a Super Middleweight to fight Canelo Alvarez. Because boxing works in funny ways, and if Alvarez prevails in quest of another title, he won’t be permitted to defend both belts regardless of his status as the most lucrative athlete in sports.

It will be one or the other and this just about throws out all possibilities of a third meeting with Gennady Golovkin. The two fights ended in a controversial draw and last month Alvarez won a majority decision at the T-Mobile Arena in las Vegas and holds the WBC Middleweight championship.

As a result of those two fights, and as talented as the 28-year old native of Guadalajara Mexico is, they concluded with more questions. Alvarez was still not considered the best-pound-for-pound fighter, though he considers to be, and fans are divided about that reputation of stealing fights.

As much as this lucrative deal delivers that tag as the new “Face” of boxing, he has to convince the skeptics about the real Canelo Alvarez who was suspended earlier this year with detection of steroid usage that postponed the rematch with Golovkin. The explanation was eating contaminated meat in Mexico and many say that was a poor excuse.

However, Hearn, and with all his money, believes that Canelo Alvarez is that new face. But it takes more than one fan,  not only his popularity with the Mexican population, to say that this newest and richest athlete in sports is the commodity that boxing needs to be that popular face.

In other words, this deal with Matchroom Boxing and DAZN is a risk. You need to have that entire boxing public to be convinced and DAZN will be depending on that fan base of subscribers to make this a worthwhile venture.

If not, and that is the challenge, this deal could be a bust. But don’t tell that to Canelo or his team that have the money to work with De La Hoya and Golden Boy during this deal. Hearn believes they are ahead of schedule and Canelo Alvarez to many has his eyes again on that old face, Floyd Mayweather Jr.

“I heard he wants to come back.” Alvarez said through his interpreter. “That’s the one fight I would like to get.”

A huge challenge is ahead and that is convincing those skeptics. Then again, when you are the richest athlete in sports it is the money that talks. Just Ask that old face Floyd Mayweather Jr. who knows a little something about money having grossed two of the highest pay-per-view revenues in boxing with fights against Manny Pacquiao and the  win last year against MMA star Conor McGregor that became a circus.

“Now we got Canelo on the platform,” Hearn said. “This is the future of boxing.” Apparently streaming services are the future. The question again, is Canelo Alvarez going to be accepted as that future for the entire sport?

Comment: [email protected]  Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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