One of the biggest draws in PPV boxing history is looking to cut costs in order to make profitable fights without fans. Canelo Alvarez who was set to fight Billy Joe Saunders in Vegas on May 2nd has stated he’s willing to fight behind closed doors as soon as boxing resumes.
Golden Boy Promotions, Canelo’s promotional team, said that to make the fights financially viable they need to be looking at cheaper alternatives in opposition. This means that Gennady Golovkin is out of the picture, but, are unification fights against IBF champ Caleb Plant or WBC champ David Benavidez?
A fight that has been mentioned and that fits the budget is a Super-Middleweight contest with Anthony Dirrell. Dirrell is ranked 10th worldwide and 5th in the U.S is based in Flint, Michigan, and is a considerably cheaper fight than either GGG or BJS.
Billy Joe Saunders reportedly agreed to an $8 million deal to fight Canelo as a DAZN streamed main event. Under current circumstances, with logistical issues inflating costs among other things, it seems Golden Boy deems this too high.
Dirrell, being a Michigan based fighter, would be far easier to arrange and would accept a deal much lower than Saunders. Dirrell who has a net-worth reportedly between $1-3 million, would likely be fighting for a purse in the high six figures, not over $1million like most of Canelo’s other potential matchups. Dirrell is also a bonafide 168lbs fighter and would be ready to go for September if offered a deal.
Another fighter that has apparently been considered by Golden Boy, is Sergiy Derevyanchenko. ‘The Technician’ who most recently lost a controversial decision to Golovkin at Middleweight, would make a far more interesting opponent for Canelo.
A Canelo v Derevyanchenko headliner seems to strike the sweet spot between offering a genuinely exciting PPV buy and keeping the costs low for Golden Boy. Fighting behind closed doors will reduce the profits from the fight very substantially, but the PPV generated would still allow them to bank a decent amount and afford Alvarez’s cut. The issue with Derevyanchenko is the weight, he would need to move from 160lbs to 168lbs to face Alvarez at Super-Middleweight.
The problem with a Canelo v Dirrell match up, even though it’s cheaper, is that it risks not drumming up enough interest to sell the PPV necessary to placate Alvarez. Despite the fact that boxing fans will have been fight-starved for more than half a year come September, I don’t see Canelo v Dirrell drawing too much in PPV, as Dirrell is just not enough of a high-caliber opponent for Alvarez.
With Canelo recently signing the biggest deal broadcast deal in Boxing history, a $365 million deal with DAZN in 2018, it’s hugely surprising that he is willing to put on fights behind closed doors. There are a number of boxers far below him in the standings that have elected to sit it out until live fights are back.
Promoters such as Hearn and Warren quite recently stated that their fan-less events will be featuring great talent, but not their biggest headliners in Fury and Joshua. They have recently warmed to the idea of doing just that though, maybe once it became apparent that COVID-19 and the tighter restrictions are going to be around for longer than first imagined.
Canelo recently spoke about his frustrations with his opponents publicly calling for fights, but in reality, wanting a big payday more than the sporting challenge. He said to Box Azteca, in Spanish, “It’s been one of our biggest issues. People scream and shout that I’m scared to face them, but in the end, when we’re negotiating, the first thing they want is a very big amount, more than they’ve earned ever.”
Alvarez is clearly keen to give boxing fans a good spectacle in September and is willing to cut his earnings in order to do so, which is commendable. We would prefer a unification fight with David Benavidez or Callum Smith, failing that match with Derevyanchenko at 168lbs.
Who do you think Canelo should face next? Let us know in the comments.