“Yo Fielding… We did it!”
— Canelo Alvarez releasing his inner “Rocky”? Probably not. But maybe…
It's an imaginary line only Eddie Hearn and DAZN could love. Playing the role of Adrian watching at home is “You”, the fan, the one who signed up for the app that's changing the game in boxing; smack dab in the middle of the holiday season with a soon-to-be available HBO crew fresh off flashing cameos in Creed II for Thanksgiving. Now comes the added bonus of watching yet another Rocky movie as an early Christmas present free of charge.
That's because new unified middleweight world champion and wildly popular Mexican icon Canelo Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs) will give massive underdog and WBA super middleweight champion Rocky Fielding (27-1, 15KOs) a chance to go Sly Stallone's Balboa inside Madison Square Garden in Gotham.
Movies, just like fights, are made well in advance of release, and in so many ways Canelo makes his Broadway debut before this increasingly changing world on Saturday night. A quick look at Canelo upon arrival is a tell at the poker table. He has a still unhealed welt under his right eye and noticeable scar tissue above the left; wounds still unmended from the menacing arsenal of Gennady “GGG” Golovkin on September 16. That's how much the Reynoso Boys think of Rocky Fielding and his entire crew.
It's been an interesting “Fight Week” for Canelo V Fielding, which feels like an exhibition from Hollywood until you keep reminding yourself it’s all too real. We just learn on Friday, that David Lemieux is out because he nearly killed himself making weight and Vergil Ortiz is gone over his fresh Lasik surgery. I'm always thinking it’s business. Why would Eddie Hearn want to feature a David Lemieux or any other fighter he has no interest in? IBF middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs recently went in on Canelo, whom he has genuine disdain for, and wants to go all in on a Cinco de Mayo firefight. Eddie Hearn now has a clear understanding of Jacob's ladder, how much further he'll climb, and most importantly, what his worth is due to those high quality fights against obscure names. I think Canelo V Jacobs is the point of Canelo V Rocky. I can hope that, at least.
Oscar De La Hoya, like a… a boss, arrives in NYC on Wednesday with a new bearded grizzly look that's the envy of “Miami Vice”; he basically tells the press that Golovkin will get a trilogy [when they feel like it], before declaring with that “PPV is dead”. This a sign indicating he knows the number of eyeballs on this fight will be so astronomical, that Manny Pacquiao V Adrien Broner (1/19) and Errol Spence Jr V Mikey Garcia (3/16) are already PPVs in trouble. On Thursday, Matchroom Boxing and Golden Boy throw a toasty dinner affair for the media in trendy SoHo, indicative of a brand very “now” with a keen eye on shaping a tomorrow full of expectations fulfilled. You almost want to say that they're smug about an inevitable #1 position but you can't– they just know what they have and sure that you'll want it.
They weigh-in at 167.4 and 167.6 respectively, amid the flashing lightbulbs and pageantry usually reserved for a superfight. We know Canelo can't possibly weigh much more by the opening bell, while Fielding should rehydrate to somewhere in the neighborhood of 185 lbs — or, roughly what WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol weighs on fight night (who, incidentally, had damp dreams on the podium a few weeks ago in Atlantic City about a fight with Canelo).
Fielding towered over Canelo much in the same way Ivan Drago loomed large over the hopelessly outgunned Rocky Balboa, only to be chopped down. That cinematic, super size difference will show up in the middle of the ring before the bell by design on DAZN, as all of those free subscribers will watch Canelo pound Rocky after a few hot previews. The likes of Tevin Farmer, Katie Taylor and Sadam Ali are all featured on this card in competitive match-ups.
But how good is Eddie Hearn? Dude already has the most popular British fighter on the planet in unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and an unbouncible checkbook, but then, he goes and basically gets Golden Boy (92% of Golden Boy's success is attributed to Canelo) and boxing's Mexican matinee idol of limited English speaking ability tucked in between America's two biggest holidays on a DAZN app free of advertising and FREE this month. Many new subscribers like myself chucking $9.99 a month for DAZN were already happy with the service, so imagine signing up for the app and telling all of your former friends who paid to see Deontay Wilder V Tyson Fury on SHOWTIME PPV December 1, that you saw Canelo Alvarez V Rocky Balboa (eh, Fielding) for free, as the first 30 days of trial service incurs no cost. I can't get over it.
But about what De La Hoya said about PPV being “dead”. A few weeks ago, Dan Rafael, senior writer for ESPN, asked Canelo in completely unscripted fashion about the DAZN app, which produced genuine excitement from Canelo. We all heard him say that he downloaded it, has it on his phone, that he's seen fights on it and that he's connected it to his TV and had it on his phone right then and there. Again, this was unscripted and so was his answer without thought. Yeah… PPV is fucked. That Manny Pacquiao V Adrien Broner fight on January 19 I'm so excited about? If it does the same 300K Wilder V Fury did I'd be surprised. The market dictates that what HBO experienced had nothing to do with a production or product issue: the format was just old, as time itself is becoming streamed. Maybe that's why PBC brought in Brett Yormack to get innovative in the face of what Canelo V Fielding will be. Errol Spence Jr V Mikey Garcia on March 16? You're on the clock.
CANELO BALBOA'S ROCKY IN 5
Viewers will watch Canelo go vintage Rocky Balboa and look larger than life in the process, as he chops down a Rocky Fielding who will at least outsize Alvarez the same way Ivan Drago did Rocky. In scouting the soon to be former WBA super middleweight champion, he's an action fighter who puts together electrifying combinations with the guts of a U.S. Marine. The problem is he's slower than AOL and needs WD-40 sprayed virtually everywhere while lacking nuance. All you'll have to do to see Canelo Balboa Rocky is reach for the computer in your pocket. The best way to eliminate temptation is to succumb to it.