Despite both fighters ready, DAZN delays Canelo Alvarez fight to avoid conflict with UFC 244

Jack BaerYahoo Sports Contributor
It was a long wait for Canelo Alvarez before his fight against Sergey Kovalev. (Photo by Sye Williams/Getty Images)
It was a long wait for Canelo Alvarez before his fight against Sergey Kovalev. (Photo by Sye Williams/Getty Images)

By any reasonable measure, Canelo Alvarez is among the biggest names in boxing, if not the biggest. He’s a multi-weight world champion. He’s 55-1-2, the one loss being to Floyd Mayweather. He has 5.7 million Instagram followers. DAZN gave him $365 million just to stream 11 of his fights.

Alvarez is a boxing superstar, and yet not even that status wasn’t enough to prevent DAZN from voluntarily bumping the start of one of the biggest fights of his career by more than an hour for a non-championship UFC event.

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DAZN waits until after 1 a.m. ET for Canelo-Kovalev fight

The same night Alvarez was scheduled to jump up two weight classes for a superfight against WBO light heavyweight titleholder Sergey Kovalev at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, a little event called UFC 244 was also scheduled at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

The main event of UFC 244 was not a traditional title fight, but the fight for the title of “BMF” between fan favorites Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal. UFC fully leaned into the marketing direction presented by Diaz, and the result seemed quite popular with combat sports fans.

Alvarez-Kovalev and Diaz-Masvidal both going down on Saturday would have presented quite the conflict for fans, but DAZN decided it would rather delay a fight involving its biggest name, the one it paid hundreds of millions for, than compete for eyeballs with the UFC.

A DAZN executive confirmed to MMA Fighting on Saturday morning that it would delay Alvarez-Kovalev until the finalization of the “BMF” title fight. The decision came after UFC president Dana White said DAZN would be “f---ing nuts” to put its fight up against Diaz-Masvidal.

Obviously, the winner of that arrangement is the fans who became able to watch both fights. It’s worth wondering if there might also be a loser in that arrangement, especially as a surreal scene unfolded in the Grand Garden Arena as the boxing fans waited for the end of a different fight 2,500 miles away.

ESPN, the carrier of UFC 244, was at least kind enough to let the MGM put on UFC 244 for fans that had paid hundreds of dollars for tickets while they waited for their own event to begin.

Both Alvarez and Kovalev were ready for the fight to begin for more than an hour.

UFC 244 eventually ended in anticlimactic fashion when the main event was called through doctor stoppage after the third round due to a cut about Diaz’s eye.

Alvarez and Kovalev began their fight at 1:18 a.m. ET, after a 104-minute break from the previous fight and after three national anthems had been sung in Las Vegas. Alvarez would go on to knock out the Russian and take the WBO light heavyweight title, cementing a special place in history as a four-weight world champion.

The time of the win: 2 a.m. ET.

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