John Skipper wanted Canelo Alvarez to fight Daniel Jacobs. On Thursday, the former ESPN president finally got what he wanted.
Alvarez and Jacobs will meet for the IBF-WBA-WBC middleweight belts on May 4 in a fight streamed by DAZN after Jacobs agreed to a three-fight deal Thursday. The venue for the Alvarez-Jacobs fight has yet to be determined.
After making a $365 million commitment to Alvarez last year with an 11-fight agreement for the Mexican superstar to fight exclusively on DAZN, the deal got off to a mediocre start when Alvarez was paired with little-known Rocky Fielding. Alvarez dominated Fielding and stopped him in the third round of a non-competitive match at Madison Square Garden to win a super middleweight belt.
The real intrigue in the DAZN-Alvarez deal were matches against former champion Gennady Golovkin and Jacobs, because a series of bouts against fighters the caliber of Fielding weren’t going to do anything to grow the service. Jacobs (35-2, 29 KOs) put himself atop the Alvarez (51-1-2, 35 KOs) sweepstakes by defeating Sergey Derevyanchenko on Oct. 27 in New York to put himself atop the Alvarez sweepstakes.
Skipper, who is the executive chairman of the Perform Group that owns DAZN, was demanding an Alvarez-Jacobs fight because it was one of the two biggest bouts that could be made for Alvarez. Alvarez went 1-0-1 in two excruciatingly close bouts with Golovkin, who remains a free agent.
DAZN has been touting itself as an alternative to pay-per-view and at $9.99 a month as a subscription service, it’s significantly more affordable than the majority of boxing pay-per-view shows. Manny Pacquiao will fight Adrien Broner on Saturday in Las Vegas in a Showtime PPV event that is grossly overpriced at $74.99.
DAZN made Alvarez the centerpiece of its plan, and has been making runs at many of the big stars in the sport. But despite offering larger-than-standard purses, it was finding it tough to gain momentum because it was competing with the Premier Boxing Champions, which has TV deals with Fox and Showtime, and Top Rank, which has a deal with ESPN.
“Danny is super excited to have have a chance to fight Canelo Alvarez on Cinco de Mayo [weekend] and unify the titles at 160 pounds,” Jacobs manager Keith Connolly said. “Danny has told me for years he knows he has the style to beat Canelo. Danny in this fight will prove to the world he is at the top of the pound-for-pound rankings
Landing Jacobs gives it a massive bout for the spring, with the potential for a few other mega-bouts at middleweight. DAZN already has unbeaten WBO champion Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade under contract. Andrade will defend his belt on Friday on DAZN against Artur Akavov.
Jacobs and Golovkin had an entertaining 2017 fight that Golovkin won. If DAZN can land Golovkin, it could pit him against the Alvarez-Jacobs winner. DAZN would also have the option of an Alvarez-Jacobs rematch or a bout with Andrade.
DAZN, though, is competing with the PBC and Top Rank for Golovkin’s service and Golovkin’s team has been unusually quiet.
But landing Jacobs gives DAZN one of the marquee bouts of the first half of 2019 for its streaming service.
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