For several weeks, as the topic of Canelo Alvarez’s next fight was discussed, boxing insiders whispered that the unified middleweight champion wasn’t on speaking terms with either Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya or company president Eric Gomez.
The word was that Alvarez, the biggest star in boxing, was only talking to Golden Boy publicist Ramiro Gonzalez and matchmaker Roberto Diaz.
On Friday, a day after Alvarez was stripped of his IBF middleweight title for failing to agree in a timely fashion for a title defense with Sergey Derevyanchenko, Alvarez expressed frustration with Diaz in a tweet that he posted in both English and Spanish.
It appears the tweet was written in Spanish and then put through a translation app to get it into English. The message, though, was quite clear:
Multiple sources told Yahoo Sports that Alvarez isn’t happy with much of anything of what’s going on at Golden Boy, though Gomez vehemently denied that in a telephone interview.
“Oscar and I spoke to him on the phone [Monday],” Gomez said. “We are fine. There is a lot of lies and misinformation out there. But we are working with Canelo, his team and the team at DAZN to make his next fight.”
How Canelo’s situation impacts GGG
The situation has wide-reaching tentacles and is causing issues for DAZN, which signed Alvarez to a $365 million deal last year that was among the richest in sports history.
It’s impacting former champion Gennadiy Golovkin, who signed with DAZN in April after he changed his mind on a handshake deal with ESPN and Top Rank to fight on its platform. Golovkin had second thoughts because going to DAZN was his only way to land a bout with Alvarez.
Alvarez and Golovkin fought a pair of fights that each did over 1 million sales on HBO Pay-Per-View and which had the third- and fourth-highest grossing gates in Nevada history. Their first bout, on Sept. 16, 2017, did a gate of $27.1 million. The rematch, on Sept. 15, 2018, had a $24.5 million gate.
The only two fights that had larger gates in boxing history were Floyd Mayweather fights against Manny Pacquiao in 2015 ($72.2 million) and Conor McGregor in 2017 ($55.4 million).
DAZN is attempting to change the big-fight paradigm from a pay-per-view model to a subscription model and hoped to use a third Alvarez-Golovkin fight, and an Anthony Joshua heavyweight title fight, as drivers to sell yearly subscriptions.
But Alvarez has a deep dislike for Golovkin, based largely on the comments Golovkin made about him after Alvarez failed two drug tests. Alvarez insisted he’d eaten contaminated meat, but Golovkin didn’t buy it and blasted him.
That led to harsh feelings which haven’t abated.
Gomez, though, said that Alvarez never said he wouldn’t fight Golovkin a third time. Though Gomez did not directly say it, he inferred it was an issue of timing. But he was adamant and unambiguous in saying Alvarez would take a third fight with Golovkin at some point.
“You can ask him yourself,” Gomez said of Alvarez, who was unavailable for comment. “He’s told us, and he has said many times, if that is the fight the fans and the media want, he’ll do it.”
That’s an issue for DAZN to sort out, though.
Can Golden Boy make Canelo happy again?
The larger issue remains whether Alvarez will be able to resolve his unhappiness with Golden Boy. Losing Alvarez would nearly crater Golden Boy.
Alvarez’s teammate, Ryan Garcia, has hired an attorney and is unhappy with what he was paid for his last fight. Garcia was paid $50,000 to face Jose Lopez in the main event of a March 30 show in Indio, California. Garcia’s unhappiness, multiple sources confirm, is that Golden Boy received a license fee for the fight approaching $1 million.
Gomez said Golden Boy has lived up to its deal with Garcia. While he said the license fee was less than $1 million, it said it was for the purses for the entire card as well as to pay expenses. He also noted that Garcia wasn’t fighting a world championship-caliber opponent.
Garcia’s reported frustration is much the same type of unhappiness De La Hoya had when he was boxing for Top Rank, his first promoter, and what led to their original split. De La Hoya was offered either a percentage of all revenues for his 1999 fight with Felix Trinidad, or a guarantee. He took the guarantee but the fight did far better than expected, selling more than 1.4 million on pay-per-view. De La Hoya was displeased with how much Top Rank earned from that bout.
It led to their break-up.
Garcia isn’t competing on pay-per-view, but he is reportedly questioning why he made so little when Golden Boy made so much from his fight. It’s notable that Garcia has cultivated a massive social media following, largely through his own efforts. He has three million Instagram followers and 201,000 on Twitter, making him one of the leading boxers on social media. Boxers who have that kind of social following generally make far more than $50,000 for a bout and get a much greater percentage of the promoter’s license fee than Garcia received in this instance.
Those same sources said that Alvarez has asked Golden Boy to open its books. That is not uncommon for fighters who compete in pay-per-view bouts, as Alvarez has primarily done over the last several years.
Despite Gomez’s denial, multiple sources insist that feelings between Alvarez and De La Hoya and Gomez appear to be frosty, at best. De La Hoya has missed several press conferences of Alvarez events. He also checked into rehab a few days before Alvarez’s fight in Las Vegas with Mayweather in 2013.
When Gomez responded to Alvarez’s tweet that mentioned Diaz, the Golden Boy matchmaker, it is notable that Gomez defended Diaz. But Gomez argued to Yahoo Sports that he defended Alvarez as well in that tweet by noting he felt the IBF was treating Alvarez unfairly.
If Alvarez attempts to go to court to break free of Golden Boy, have no doubt the company would fight it vigorously. It would, quite literally, be fighting for its professional life.
It is unlikely to get that far, though it’s a tricky situation that must be navigated with aplomb. Heavy-handed actions and threats of lawsuits are exactly the wrong way to deal with this.
What’s next for Canelo, GGG, DAZN and GBP?
DAZN is left to try to appease Golovkin, who so desperately wants the third Alvarez fight after he believes he beat the Mexican superstar twice but only got a draw and a loss for his efforts.
Its executives are trying to work with Alvarez to get him into the ring before the end of the year, likely against WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade, because he’s by far their biggest subscription driver. But there are no guarantees. Gomez said Tuesday he is hopeful Alvarez will return by the end of the year.
DAZN executives can’t be happy that Golden Boy’s inability to get a deal done with Alvarez for a fight on Mexican Independence Day weekend cost it one of the biggest dates on the boxing calendar.
And while Golovkin is expected to fight Derevyanchenko for the IBF belt that was stripped from Alvarez, that fight is neither done nor a major lure for new subscribers.
Golovkin isn’t happy, though he’s not expected to take action or claim DAZN is in breach of his deal.
Alvarez has had a long and successful run with Golden Boy and has proven in the past to be extremely loyal to the company. De La Hoya is an icon in Alvarez’s native Mexico and that will likely play a role in what course of action he takes.
It’s likely these issues will be patched up and they’ll move forward successfully, but it’s no guarantee.
Until Alvarez decides what he’s going to do, De La Hoya is going to have more than his fair share of sleepless nights. The future of his company could rest on what Alvarez decides.
Gomez said that’s melodramatic and that it’s business as usual.
“There is no problem between us,” Gomez said. “People love to talk and there’s a lot of incorrect information out there, but the truth is, we’re working on putting together the best fight we can for Canelo. Would it hurt us if he left? Of course, because there is nobody like Canelo in boxing. Did it hurt Top Rank when Manny Pacquiao left them? Of course, but they didn’t go under. They reloaded and they’re still out there.
“But we’re nowhere near that situation. I hear this stuff and I wonder where it’s coming from, but it’s not true.”
Alvarez is the one who could clear all of this up with one statement.
If or until he does, Golden Boy’s executives are going to twist in the wind.
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