DAZN and Golden Boy Promotions have returned to the familiar negotiating position they occupied earlier this year.
BoxingScene.com has learned that executives for the streaming service and Canelo Alvarez’s promoters are constructively discussing the Mexican superstar returning to the ring on an undetermined date in November versus either Billy Joe Saunders or Callum Smith. Alvarez chose Saunders over Smith as his opponent for a May 2 fight at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, but that event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alvarez’s return could get pushed into December, but DAZN’s decision-makers and Alvarez’s handlers would prefer for it to happen in November. Whenever Alvarez fights next, it is expected to take place in Las Vegas or Los Angeles.
The 30-year-old Alvarez and his team are free to face someone other than Saunders because they hadn’t actually signed contracts to fight for the British southpaw’s WBO super middleweight title. The two sides had only agreed to terms before it became clear that the coronavirus crisis would delay Alvarez’s return to the ring.
The four-division champion had hoped to fight September 12, but DAZN, Golden Boy and Alvarez couldn’t come to an agreement on a suitable opponent for the $40 million license fee DAZN typically pays to compensate Alvarez, Golden Boy, Alvarez’s opponent and his opponent’s team as part of his 11-fight, five-year contract. It isn’t clear exactly how much DAZN is willing to pay altogether for Alvarez to fight Smith or Saunders, but it’ll be significantly more than the approximate half of the $40 million DAZN discussed recently with Alvarez’s team.
Neither Saunders nor Smith are likely to be offered quite as much money as was available to face Alvarez on May 2 if fans cannot attend this event in November or December.
Saunders told The Athletic’s Mike Coppinger early in July that he wouldn’t be in shape in time to have battled Alvarez on September 12. BoxingScene.com has been informed, however, that Saunders is willing to fight Alvarez in November or later.
Saunders (29-0, 14 KOs) and Smith (27-0, 19 KOs) are promoted by Matchroom Boxing. Like Golden Boy, the British promotional company run by Eddie Hearn is partnered with DAZN.
The 30-year-old Saunders is one of boxing’s most boisterous trash-talkers and polarizing figures. He’d help sell the bout better than the low-key Smith and the fight itself would be intriguing because Alvarez typically has had more difficulty dealing with southpaws than orthodox boxers.
In the ring, an Alvarez-Smith matchup is more appealing to DAZN’s decision-makers because it probably would make for a more fan-friendly fight. Facing Smith also would afford Alvarez an opportunity to legitimize himself as the WBA super middleweight champion.
Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs) stopped England’s Rocky Fielding to win the WBA world super middleweight title in December 2018 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Smith, who is also 30, remains the WBA’s true super middleweight champion, as he owns its “super” 168-pound crown and stopped Fielding in the first round three years before Alvarez beat him.
Alvarez hasn’t fought since November 2, when he knocked out Russia’s Sergey Kovalev in the 11th round to win the WBO light heavyweight title at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The Guadalajara native since has vacated that title and committed to moving back down to the super middleweight division for his next bout.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.