By Keith Idec
Now that HBO has announced it is moving away from broadcasting boxing, two of the sport’s biggest stars are TV free agents.
Promoters for middleweight rivals Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin can begin negotiating new rights deals for at least their respective next fights. Both of their contracts with HBO ended following their middleweight championship rematch September 15 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Count Bob Arum among the sport’s power brokers who are very interested in working with Alvarez and Golovkin.
Arum told BoxingScene.com on Thursday that his promotional company’s president, Todd duBoef, has reached out to Tom Loeffler, Golovkin’s promoter, about airing Golovkin’s fights on ESPN or ESPN Pay-Per-View. Top Rank has an exclusive content contract with ESPN and any promoter that wants bouts broadcast on ESPN must work with Top Rank in accordance with that agreement.
For Arum and Top Rank, working with Alvarez obviously would be much more complicated than partnering with Golovkin. Beyond Alvarez’s superstar status, Arum has a contentious relationship with Oscar De La Hoya, Alvarez’s promoter and Top Rank’s franchise fighter for most of De La Hoya’s career.
“Todd will be talking to Tom Loeffler about the possibilities,” Arum said. “And as far as Canelo is concerned, he’s under contract to Golden Boy and they’re experienced enough, I assume, to make their own deal. So if they came to us and wanted to know what ESPN had to offer, we would tell them. But that’s up to Golden Boy.
“As far Canelo goes, we’d wait for Oscar to approach us. And as far as Golovkin goes, Todd’s been reaching out to Loeffler. But as we’ve said, we’re open to doing fights promoted by other promoters. That’s what we’re doing November 3rd with [Miguel] Berchelt and [Miguel] Roman. And that’s what we’re doing February 2nd, when we’re doing [Sergey] Kovalev and [Eleider] Alvarez.”
In addition to ESPN, Showtime, HBO’s longtime premium-cable rival, and DAZN, the new streaming service that has heavily invested in boxing, are among the suitors for Alvarez and Golovkin.
The 28-year-old Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs) is almost exclusively a pay-per-view fighter, but De La Hoya seemingly needs another broadcast or streaming partner in addition to Facebook to showcase his company’s other boxers. ESPN and Golden Boy have had content agreements, but not one comparable to the partnership between ESPN and Top Rank.
ESPN might make more sense for Golovkin because Arum could offer him a fight against WBA world middleweight champion Ryota Murata if Golovkin has to wait until next September for a third fight against Alvarez.
Arum has repeatedly discussed making a bout between Japan’s Murata (14-1, 11 KOs) and Kazakhstan’s Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs) at the Tokyo Dome. The Hall-of-Fame promoter predicts that a Murata-Golovkin fight could sell out that 55,000-seat stadium in Japan’s capital city.
Murata is scheduled to defend his title against Dallas’ Rob Brant (23-1, 16 KOs) on October 20 in Las Vegas.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.