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Canelo vs Saunders: To postpone or stay the course?

Lee Cleveland Updated
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Tick, tick, tick. Time is running out on Canelo vs Saunders for May 2.

Is Coronavirus the reason Canelo Alvarez vs Billy Joe Saunders hasn't been confirmed yet?

A host of other boxing cards, scheduled to take place in March or April, have been cancelled or postponed while more are teetering on those statuses,

Even if Coronavirus is sorted out by May 2, it would be of little consolation to those involved because it takes many weeks to market an event of this magnitude and venue space, hotel rooms and travel logistics (for fans and all involved) have to be in place well before fight weekend.

The trigger on this affair should have been pulled weeks ago.

Perhaps promoters are contemplating the fallout of showcasing Canelo vs Saunders in an empty venue? After all, the network responsible for broadcasting the card, DAZN, is looking to expand its subscriber base and what better way to get the public's attention than when everyone is quarantined at home watching TV and surfing the internet?

Having launched in the US in September 2018, the combat sport-centric service has struggled to obtain a large and consistent subscriber base in the US.

The relatively new online streaming company boasts about 8 million subscribers but only 650,000 - 800,000 in the US, far fewer than ESPN's 3.5 million American purchasers and a far cry from its purported target.

dazn

Per Thomas Hauser via BoxingScene.com: "One industry source says that an early DAZN financial model anticipated that the streaming service could have as many as 3.5 million subscribers in the United States by the end of 2019."

Feeling the pinch early, DAZN doubled its monthly subscription price for US consumers from US$9.99 to US$19.99 last March and is believed to be exploring additional revenue-enhancing options.

That stated, should Canelo vs Saunders be broadcast with limted or no attendance, a lot of revenue for the promotion would be lost and the casio hotel, T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, may have reservations about hosting the event given their limited upside due to the lack of attendance.

Are promoters looking for another venue? Is that the reason for the announcement delay? 

Something is obviously being discussed because an official announcement, one way or the other, has yet to be made.

The likely options are as follows:

  1. Cancel Canelo vs Saunders in its entirety and start promoting Canelo vs GGG 3 for September

  2. Postpone May's fight card and reschedule for June or July, or a date TBD

  3. Follow through with the card on May 2 with an empty or greatly limited audience

  4. Roll the dice and stay the course, hoping Coronavirus will be under control and that at least 10-15K paying attendees will be present to mitigate live gate losses

  5. Follow through with the May 2 date (with our without a live gate) at a new venue and/or location because T-Mobile is no longer fiscally prudent

Regardless of what happens, there's going to be some mess as it relates to fighter purses, the live gate and venue, hotel and vendor contracts and promoter revenue.

DAZN, on the other hand, stands to gain from marketing its product to bored sports fans who'll likely be sitting at home the next several Friday and Saturday nights.

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