Canelo Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs) may not have a nine-figure deal with DAZN anymore, but that doesn’t mean he’s done fighting on DAZN.
The Mexican boxing superstar announced on Tuesday that he will take on WBA super-middleweight champion Callum Smith (27-0, 19 KOs) on December 19th at a location TBD. Mike Coppinger of The Athletic claims that Texas, which for the time being is holding events with a limited number of fans in attendance, is the likely destination.
Alvarez was released from his Golden Boy contract about two weeks ago, making him both a promotional free agent and a network free agent. His lucrative 11-fight, $365 million contract with DAZN was through Golden Boy, so once that relationship was severed then that also nixed the network partnership. Canelo had sued Golden Boy, Oscar De La Hoya, and DAZN for breach of contract and a host of other things concerning the state of his career. He has been at odds with both Golden Boy and DAZN over finding opponents as well as settling on purse money adjusted for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Funnily enough, Canelo vs. Smith was one of the options for Alvarez this year but due to the pandemic, DAZN didn’t want to cough up the hefty $40 million license fee to Golden Boy to facilitate such an event. Now that the finances have a changed (to what extent, we don’t know), Canelo’s first official fight as a free agent will be on DAZN but promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, which has its own fights deal with the streaming service. This will also serve as the big launch for DAZN as it goes global with its platform, including in the United Kingdom.
As for the fight itself, Smith won the WBA title with a knockout win over George Groves in the World Boxing Super Series tournament final. Kickboxing fans may also know that Smith won a decision over Nieky Holzken, who fought Smith on short notice in the semifinals after Jurgen Braehmer withdrew due to injury. His last outing came almost a year ago to the day when he won a disputed decision over John Ryder in Liverpool. At 6’3”, Smith is the tallest opponent Canelo has ever faced.
Alvarez, who has a knockout win at junior middleweight over Callum’s brother Liam Smith, is coming off a KO of Sergey Kovalev last year to win the WBO light heavyweight title. He has since vacated the belt to move back down to 168, where his lone appearance saw him stop Rocky Fielding in his DAZN debut to win the WBA’s secondary belt. Callum is a considerable upgrade in opposition and while Alvarez is still going to be a sizable favorite, this is a legitimate and interesting fight.
Based on Mike Coppinger’s report, Alvarez intends to remain unattached as far as networks are concerned, so ideally he could fight on DAZN next month, a FOX PPV in 2021, ESPN PPV that same year, etc. and have much more freedom and control over his career whilst having more options regarding the quality of his opponents.