By Jake Donovan
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Golden Boy Promotions carry significant leverage in any negotiations but not to the point where they get to call all of the shots.
This is a lesson that the brass at DAZN is fully prepared to teach.
Little movement has come in Alvarez’s plans to secure an opponent for his desired September 14 ring return at a location to be determined, a development which has not at all pleased the DAZN team. The Mexican icon and reigning World middleweight champion has attempted to freeze out the one option most desired by the sports streaming platform, a third fight with Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin.
With less than three months to market the targeted September 14 fight date, the team who inked Alvarez to a record-breaking multi-million dollar contract has now limited the field to acceptable next opponents—Golovkin or light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev.
Sources have confirmed with BoxingScene.com on Monday afternoon the latest update in a development first reported last week by BoxingScene senior writer Keith Idec.
Not completely ruled out of the discussion is unbeaten middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade, who recently scored a 12-round win over Maciej Sulecki and fits into Alvarez’s “all the belts” theme for his intended 2019 ring campaign. However, Andrade (28-0, 17KOs) remains a distant third option for the moment, and one which the DAZN team isn’t prepared to grant Alvarez until efforts to secure either Golovkin or Kovalev have been exhausted.
“Golovkin and Kovalev are approved,” a source familiar with talks informed BoxingScene.com on Monday. “As for Demetrius Andrade, we aren’t at that point yet.”
The development rules out Golden Boy’s plans to keep Alvarez’s opponent in-house, namely a showdown with unbeaten countryman Jaime Munguia, who would have moved up in weight for such a contest.
DAZN opened up the vault to secure the services of Alvarez (52-1-2, 35KOs) last fall, inking him to a 10-fight deal worth at least $350 million. An additional $15 million payday preceded the pact, which came in the form of Alvarez’s 3rd round knockout of England’s Rocky Fielding to win a secondary super middleweight title last December.
For the moment, that fight is the one layup DAZN is prepared to grant the reigning middleweight king, who this past May turned away the challenge of Daniel Jacobs in their 160-pound title unification clash. The event generated a considerable surge in subscriptions for the sports streaming platform which splashed into the U.S. market last September.
Still, the spike in new consumers isn’t enough to allow Alvarez to pick and choose whomever he wishes for his next fight—at least not at $35 million per outing. It’s why DAZN also signed Golovkin to a reported $100 million pact earlier this year, also granting the former middleweight titlist a soft touch for his platform debut in scoring a 4th round knockout of unbeaten but unheralded Steve Rolls this past June.
The bout was Golovkin’s first since dropping a 12-round majority decision to Alvarez last September in Las Vegas, thus ending his record-tying middleweight title reign. The defeat left the long-reigning titlist at 20 successful defenses—tied with Bernard Hopkins for the all-time mark.
The run includes a highly questionable draw versus Alvarez in Sept. 2017, which also took place in Las Vegas. Having managed to be viewed as a winner on just one of six scorecards in their two-fight set, Golovkin was frosty on the idea of returning to Las Vegas for a third fight with Alvarez, who used the stance to freeze out his longtime divisional rival.
However, efforts to secure a desirable alternate opponent have so far proven futile.
Alvarez named Kovalev, Munguia, Andrade and unbeaten super middleweight titlist Callum Smith among candidates to land the September date. Contact has been made with Andrade’s camp, though not in the form of an official offer extended.
Smith’s handlers claimed that the Brit wouldn’t be ready for such a fight until December, nor is he on DAZN’s current wish list. Munguia has since been ruled out as an acceptable opponent, leaving just Kovalev if Alvarez is keen on forcing Golovkin to look elsewhere for his next payday.
Alvarez and Golden Boy made an offer to Kovalev (33-3-1, 28KOs) but not to where the three-time light heavyweight titlist was prepared to walk away from an obligated mandatory title defense versus England’s Anthony Yarde. The two are due to finally meet on August 24 in Kovalev’s native Russia after month’s worth of delays, although the bout has yet to officially make its way to a signed contract.
Still, Kovalev’s only options to walk away from such a fight are limited to paying Yarde a step-aside fee or vacate his light heavyweight title. The latter move would defeat the purpose of Alvarez moving up in weight for such a fight, whereas Kovalev will need a far greater offer in order to pay off Yarde and still walk away from a comparable payday than would be the case with fighting at home for the first time since 2016.
As much has dawned on Golden Boy Promotions, who according to Sports Illustrated senior writer Chris Mannix has recently upped its offer, though still not to the point where Kovalev is enticed to move past his mandatory title defense.
The bright side is that Alvarez and Golden Boy have been properly motivated to be flexible in this situation. However, they are up against a ticking clock and—barring their willingness to empty the vault—could find themselves right back at the negotiating table with Golovkin.
“The ball is in Golden Boy’s court,” stated the source.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox