Canelo vs. GGG 3: Why a third fight makes more sense than Alvarez vs. Saunders on May 2nd
When DAZN was initially launched back in September of 2018, the strategy of signing boxing's biggest draws seemed simple enough.
Although a certain degree of growing pains was expected, most involved didn't anticipate it's current issues with talent, matchmaking and illegal streaming.
When the Sports-based streaming service signed Canelo Alvarez to an astronomical, 5-year, 11 fight agreement for $365 million to fight exclusively on DAZN, congratulations seemed to be in order. Everyone was happy, right?
But one of the sport's best promoters, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport, should have seen this coming.
All they had to do was contact former President of HBO Sports Ross Greenberg to discover the problem with signing talent to long term deals. When Greenberg was in charge of sports programming at Home Box Office, they went through great lengths to sign the world's best talent; Roy Jones Jr., Oscar De La Hoya, Sugar Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Lennox Lewis, Wladimir Klitschko, and so on...sounds like a lock, doesn't it?
But wait a minute...the network has to put them in match-ups that fight fans actually care about for which they'll want to tune in.
When you have fighters who are guaranteed to make $35 million per fight regardless of opponent or match-up, it's very difficult to hold their feet to the proverbial fire. DAZN signed both GGG and Canelo with big money guarantees, hoping to secure the rights to a televised 3rd fight.
Now Canelo doesn't want a proposed "rubber match" because there's "no incentive" to step in the ring with Golovkin at the current time...at least in his mind, there isn't.
And yes, it would be considered a rubber match to most sane and unbiased observers. To all those who believe Canelo Alvarez won the first meeting back on September 16th, 2017, please raise your hand!!
Despite what judge Adalaide Byrd thought she saw that night, most watching the fight believed Golovkin did enough to earn a unanimous or at least majority decision...you'd be hard-pressed to find any competent writer who felt the fight deserved to be scored a split draw. Over 85 writers and broadcasters on press row gave GGG the nod that night.
Did everyone simply forget, or don't really care any longer?
Now Canelo Alvarez is guaranteed to make another $35 million fighting BJ Saunders or anyone else on May 2nd.
It appears to be a much better ideology for the real bosses of the sport, the fans of boxing, that DAZN purchase individual match-ups and not long-term fighter contracts going forward.
But now DAZN is trying to inflate the purses of fighters to attract talent.
Al Haymon discovered, after exhausting hundreds of millions, that it becomes virtually impossible to make the great match-ups a reality when fighters grow accustomed to making 4 or 5 times their respective market value for tune-up fights or relatively soft touches.
DAZN would be wise to purchase match-ups on the basis of fan demand and not by overpaying talent.
For example...what is the strategy behind signing Mikey Garcia to a one fight, $7 million contract to fight Jessie Vargas in February?
How much do you think Mikey is going to demand for a fight with Manny Pacquiao? If you think it's anything less than $7 million, you're living in fantasy land. It becomes virtually impossible to force these fighters into risky, fan-driven match-ups when they can make millions facing 10 to 1 betting underdogs.
Worst of all, the real bosses of boxing won't pay to see it. So where's the return on the DAZN investment?
Al Haymon and PBC are still waiting for their return.
Once again, a smart promoter like Eddie Hearn should know better.
Here's the problem...Eddie Hearn isn't making fights with his own money, just like Al Haymon wasn't making matches with his own coin when he launched PBC.
Just like Al Haymon, Eddie's first priority is to his fighters and his 10% commission.
Are the real bosses of boxing going to pay for match-ups like Canelo vs. BJ Saunders? How about Garcia vs. Vargas? Or Joshua vs. Pulev? What about GGG vs. Szeremeta? Or Andrade vs. Keeler?
It makes sense that an estimated 40% of all die-hard boxing fans, the real bosses of the sport, will choose to stream these expensive prizefights illegally.
It's time for DAZN to flex its financial muscle and demand to see some kind of return on their investment. In order to keep their streaming service on the air, they absolutely must start holding their promotional partners and respective fighters accountable for quality match-ups that will capture the imagination of the die-hard fight fan. Boxing fans want to be inspired. No one cares to see a 15 to 1 mismatch on the biggest stages of the sport.
If DAZN wishes to reverse the culture of boxing in America and abroad, they should start by demanding a more fan-friendly match-up than Canelo vs. BJ Saunders on May 2nd.
Yes, Saunders is an excellent fighter and a legitimate titleholder at 168 pounds, but a style match-up opposite Alvarez is a certified snoozer. Are any fans really interested in seeing two counter punchers stand in the center of the ring, waiting for their opponent to "get-off" first?
To be fair, DAZN ended the 2019 calendar year on a very high note. With match-ups like GGG vs. Derevyanchenko, Canelo vs. Kovalev, and Joshua vs. Ruiz 2, it seemed the streaming network was on the right path.
But so far, the 2020 fight calendar on DAZN is looking extremely thin. And with their financial influence in play, this "coddling" of fighters is unacceptable to most interested boxing fans and critics.
Some critics who find this commentary to be somewhat harsh will more than likely say, "even the best fighters like Canelo can't be expected to face the recognized beasts of the sport in every fight.
For a guaranteed $35 million, Canelo had better fight someone who creates the demand to justify such a hefty payday, or what's the point?
Memo to DAZN, Canelo, Golden Boy Promotions and Matchroom Sport: Make Canelo vs. GGG III for May 2nd, while there's still a demand for the match-up.
If DAZN hopes to keep fans honoring their subscription dues every month, they must do more to entice the paying customers. Or get used to the idea of streaming piracy by the demographic which should be driving their sales...the die-hard fight fans who love the sport of boxing.
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