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DAZN signs Canelo Alvarez to historic 11-fight deal worth $365 million in guaranteed money

Boxing superstar Canelo Alvarez has signed the richest athlete contract in sports history.

DAZN

Boxing’s top pay-per-view draw is officially headed to subscription streaming service DAZN.

In a landmark announcement made on Wednesday, unified middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs) agreed to a five-year, 11-fight deal to have his fights broadcast on DAZN. The on-demand sports platform launched in the United States in September, but is already in service in Canada, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Japan. This DAZN agreement means those countries will also get Canelo fights as part of their subscription.

As for the monetary value? It’s staggering. The Los Angeles Times says that Canelo’s contract is worth a guaranteed of $365 million, the largest athlete contract in sports history. Alvarez has been almost exclusively on pay-per-view over the past several years, with a May 2015 win over James Kirkland representing his sole non-PPV headlining bout since 2013. Alvarez had been with HBO since 2015, but with HBO Boxing heading for extinction after 2018, the Mexican star became a highly coveted network free agent.

DAZN is not in the pay-per-view business, so you might be wondering how the payment structure changes now that he’s on a subscription model and thus not getting a cut of the PPV revenue. According to ESPN, “Alvarez can still earn even more money beyond his guarantee based on specific subscription benchmarks that DAZN can reach during the course of the deal.” With DAZN not in Mexico, you can also expect Canelo to make even more money through his TV deal in his home country.

“Today represents a major shift in over-the-top sports content,” said John Skipper, executive chairman of Perform Group, which owns DAZN. “Until now, fans haven’t received the value from sports subscription platforms that they deserve - not even close. Today’s consumers need more than that, and DAZN is here to completely change that. To be perfectly clear, there is a new standard for premium, top of the funnel sports content.

“This gives us an opportunity to demonstrate our world class streaming platform to US sports fans. We expect to announce additional high quality content across a wide variety of popular sports to the US service in upcoming months and years as we lead the way in transforming global sports viewing to affordable and flexible over the top.”

Golden Boy Promotions also received a license fee (terms not disclosed) to broadcast up to 10 fight night cards per year on DAZN, as well as access to the Golden Boy fight library. It essentially replaces several of the dates that they previously reserved for HBO.

Rather interestingly, the Los Angeles Times reported that the UFC “also considered making a run” at bringing Canelo on board, although that obviously never came to fruition, such is the case for other reported Zuffa Boxing talks this year.

Canelo is coming off a majority decision win over Gennady Golovkin in September, in one of the best fights of 2018. It is believed that he made an estimated $50 million off of 1.1 million pay-per-view buys and a $23 million gate, with the PPV itself costing $85. He is moving up to super-middleweight (168 lbs) for his next fight, a December 15th showdown against WBA secondary titlist Rocky Fielding (27-1, 15 KOs) at Madison Square Garden in New York. It is expected that he’ll return to 160 lbs to defend his middleweight titles in 2019.

With Anthony Joshua also part of DAZN, that means that the service holds claim to broadcasting the top two active draws in boxing, and the acquisition of Canelo is a major breakthrough as far as trying to land US subscribers at the $9.99 per month cost.