Boxing is and has been a niche sport for decades now, with the nature of the sport leading to a splintering of media rights. As the viability of the pay-per-view model comes to an end (at least for boxing, given the lack of true draws at the top of the sport), it makes sense that we’re seeing it return to television and/or streaming services. HBO’s recently announced exit has also necessitated movement for boxing rights.
But while MMA companies like UFC and Bellator have a handle on a wide array of events, boxing still works through various management companies, which is how we got to the point that OTT network DAZN signed a 5-year, 11-fight deal with Golden Boy Entertainment and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez for a massive $365 million.
Via ESPN’s Dan Rafael:
In a record-shattering deal finalized early Wednesday morning, Alvarez signed a five-year, 11-fight deal worth a minimum of $365 million with DAZN, which only launched in the United States in September.
It will commence with his move up to super middleweight to challenge secondary world titlist Rocky Fielding on Dec. 15 at Madison Square Garden in New York, where they will meet face-to-face at the kickoff news conference on Wednesday afternoon.
Alvarez’s deal is the richest athlete contract in sports history, eclipsing the 13-year, $325 million agreement that New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton signed in 2014 when he was with the Miami Marlins.
“Canelo is the highest-paid athlete in the world. He’s extremely happy,” De La Hoya told ESPN after Alvarez signed.
That $365 million number is eye-catching for a reason, especially coming from a relatively young streaming service like DAZN. But the only way for DAZN to survive is to have content worth signing up for, and given their penetration into the MMA market, it makes sense to add the biggest name in boxing to their inventory. The eleven fights are the key; on a per-fight basis, DAZN will be paying about $33 million per contest. And considering what Canelo had been earning per fight under the pay-per-view model, it doesn’t sound that crazy.
Alvarez, meanwhile, gets some stability; he’s only 28, and this deal should carry him through some of his prime years. It’s tough to find a downside here; sure, DAZN could end up going under, but that’s much more likely to happen without prime content than with it, and you have to spend for rights.
We’ll have to wait and see on production values, setup, and the rest, but they don’t have a lot of time to prepare: the the first fight of the deal is coming up in less than two months.