The high-profile divorce from Canelo Alvarez may save DAZN nigh-on three hundred million dollars in the short term but throws more alarming light on the digital streaming network’s long-term financial future.
As the Mexican icon wriggles free of that huge contract and thus enables himself to return to the ring next month in a world super-middleweight title unification bout with Caleb Plant, so DAZN lose the jewel in their crown.
With Canelo’s return from the digital experiment to traditional pay-per-view television, the balance of boxing broadcast power in America shifts more solidly from DAZN, Golden Boy and Matchroom US towards Premier Boxing Champions, Top Rank, ESPN and Showtime.
Boxing star Canelo Alvarez signed a huge contract with DAZN but has now left the mega deal
The split means the network has lost its central star and raises questions over its financial state
Plant is promoted by PBC and his December fight with Alvarez looks to be heading to Showtime, which is also the TV home of Deontay Wilder.
The defection of Alvarez comes after DAZN’s multi-billionaire backer, dual Ukraine-US citizen Lev Blavatnik, is understood to have ordered a return to normal payment levels for boxer recruitment, while seeking alternative revenue sources.
The network has been losing more than half a billion dollars a year and its end of 2020 financial report is awaited in January with bated breath in some quarters.
DAZN have picked up super-kid Ryan Garcia, like Canelo now a defector from Golden Boy, and his world lightweight title final eliminator against Luke Campbell is set to become their first digital broadcast in the UK.
That will be available to viewers registering with their first monthly subscription of £1.99, which at that price smacks of desperation.
Anthony Joshua is the main man in Matchroom’s stable and they will hope they can retain him
While, like many of DAZN’s outputs, the fight will be available in 200 countries around the world, it is unlikely to impact numbers which are so far falling well short of meeting their massive outgoings. This is a move likely to sit uneasily with Matchroom’s long-term exclusive deal with Sky Sports.
Anthony Joshua’s December 12 world heavyweight title defence against Kubrat Pulev will be screened by Sky. The long-awaited unification super-fight between Joshua and Tyson Fury is likely to be shared jointly on pay-per-view by Sky and BT Sport but that all-British affair would not expect a big DAZN audience n America.
It would be a serious blow if Matchroom were to lose control of Joshua. He is their prime asset. Albeit no more than a supporting bulwark for DAZN in the US beneath Gennady Golovkin and Garcia, the latter’s main attraction being that of a hot idol for Hispanic teens and early-twenties.
Devon Haney, who Garcia or Campbell hope to challenge for his world title, lost traction with a recent laboured win.
A much-anticipated all-British bout between Joshua and Tyson Fury would draw little in the US
Billy Joe Saunders is among the Matchroom fighters yet to produce much of a Stateside stir
Those four apart, DAZN are down to lesser lights in America plus Matchroom’s UK line-up of Campbell, Dillian Whyte, Callum Smith, Billy Joe Saunders and Joshua Buatsi, none of whom are setting America alight as yet. Nor is Brit-based Olexsandr Usyk.
Ranged against them by various cross-Atlantic rivals, in addition to arch-entertainer Fury here with BT and Queensberry, are Terence Crawford, who defends his pound-for-pound crown against Luke Campbell this Saturday night, Errol Spence Jr, Deontay Wilder, Manny Pacquaio, the Charlo twins, Vasyl Lomachenko and young sensation Teofimo Lopez who has just ended Loma’s unbeaten record, Regis Prograis, Shakur Stevenson, Shawn Porter and Luis Ortiz, to name but a few, with Josh Taylor, Daniel Dubois, Joe Joyce, Carl Frampton and Anthony Yarde leading the UK contingent.
Heaven forbid that the prediction by Fury’s US promoter Bob Arum for Pulev to upset Joshua comes true.
A long-lasting fascination with one of the greatest fights of all time has resulted in a wonderfully detailed and insightful book about Sugar Ray Leonard versus Marvin Hagler.
Brian Doogan, a vastly experienced sportswriter, weaves that epic of 33 years ago into the background of the golden era of Leonard, Hagler, Duran and Hearns and examines the still-running controversy -over the decision in favour of Sugar Ray, which prompted Marvellous Marvin’s premature retirement.
Be it for lockdown or Christmas, this a must-read.
*The Superfight –Leonard v Hagler, BDM Publishing, hardback £20.