On September 20, 2020, Canelo Alvarez finally got tired of other people telling him what to do.
Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs), boxing’s biggest star, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Federal Court against Golden Boy Promotions, CEO Oscar De La Hoya, and exclusive U.S. broadcasting partner DAZN on 10 counts, including breach of contract and intentional interference.
While 10 months of inactivity is a commonality for most fighters, it was painful and unacceptable for Alvarez. The Mexican had already been at odds with his promoter for about five years. If you recall the interview Canelo did with Graham Bensinger, he admitted that he first got the feeling that Golden Boy didn’t care about him around the time he fought Miguel Cotto, which was in 2015.
But if there were nicks in the armor, the relationship was probably fully fractured in August 2019 when Alvarez was stripped of his IBF middleweight title after failing to come to terms with Sergiy Derevyanchenko. There was reportedly a written agreement between the sanctioning body and Golden Boy matchmaker Robert Diaz where both sides agreed that Alvarez would be stripped if they were unable to reach an agreement to battle Derevyanchenko. Unfortunately, they failed to notify Canelo. So, he was understandably frustrated when he was stripped of the title. The relationship between Canelo and Golden Boy didn't recover. In September of 2020, Canelo got the lawyers ready to rumble, and by November, a deal had been fashioned to separate Canelo from Oscar's Golden Boy.
Before that, it looked like Alvarez continued to try and be that good soldier. But he then decided that he'd tweak his formula, and more so take the wheel. His adage is, “No Boxing No Life,” and in the last couple years, he's come into his own as a boxer-businessman.
But when the COVID-19 pandemic struck and shut down the world, that catchphrase became, “There’s no boxing, what the hell am I doing with my life?”
Discussions for a September booking fell through primarily due to the lack of a live gate, apparently. DAZN, the sports streaming service that initially signed him to a five-year, $365 million deal, subsequently claimed he was violating the terms of his contract by not seeking a “premier” opponent, reportedly offering $17.5 million of his guaranteed $35 million purse per fight. Alvarez was willing to negotiate. But according to the suit, DAZN failed to present a new offer. At this point, there was no turning back. A new era of Canelo had just begun. On Friday, November 6th, the 31-year-old 2, and he hasn’t looked back.
Ironically, he has gone on to partner with DAZN on three of his last four fights, except for last November’s undisputed showdown (TKO11 win for the Mexican) against Caleb Plant. And now, he’s the man in charge. He probably wishes he had made the move sooner.
Alvarez was a skinny 140 pounds when he made his pro debut. And a man in a suit was telling him, “You’re gonna fight that guy.” But now it’s King Canelo telling everyone else, “I want this guy, and I want him on May 7th.”
“Him” is Dmitry Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs), who will put his unbeaten record and his WBA “Super” light heavyweight title on the line against Canelo at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
This is the first fight of a two-fight deal Alvarez signed with DAZN, and the second bout of the new agreement could be against arch-nemesis Gennadiy Golovkin in September.
But not everyone in the sport has the luxury of choosing which deal sounds more lucrative for themselves. Alvarez has that grandeur and supreme power simply because he took a risk and had a massive following to support his next chapter. He is setting an example for other boxers to follow.
However, let’s not forget who started the blueprint on getting out of bad deals—and he’ll remind you constantly of that fact—it’s Floyd Mayweather. The unbeaten five-division world champion paid Bob Arum $750,000 to get out of his contract with Top Rank and embarked on an unforgettable journey that concluded with him becoming the richest boxer ever.
Mayweather’s motivation was more tied to money, but Canelo is also trying to challenge himself each time he steps into the ring.
Alvarez also had an offer to return to Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) for a two-fight deal following his 11th-round knockout over Plant to become the undisputed 168-pound king last November on Showtime. But Canelo decided to return to Matchroom and Eddie Hearn for a chance to make more history.
However, not everyone was happy about his decision, particularly one former world champion whom Haymon represents.
David Benavidez (25-0, 22 KOs), who lost his WBC title twice but never inside the ring, accused Alvarez of ducking him.
“At the end of the day, we all knew Canelo wouldn’t want to fight me,” Benavidez told BoxingScene.com in a statement through his public relations team. “He’s fought his tough fights, he’s a businessman. For him, it’s not fighting the best, it’s business.”
However, PBC’s deal was reportedly upwards of $100 million guaranteed for bouts with Jermall Charlo in May and David Benavidez in September. That’s not exactly a small amount of money.
On the other hand, Alvarez knows how Benavidez feels, and he understands the frustration of wanting something but being unable to grasp it due to business or personal constraints.
But what if Benavidez and other fighters like him, who are frustrated at the politics of the sport and being shut out of big fights, actually learned a lesson from Canelo?
Benavidez is 25 years old. When Alvarez was the same age, he already had 48 professional fights, nearly double Benavidez’s record of 25-0 (22 knockouts). This includes world titles in multiple divisions (junior middleweight and middleweight) and seven combined title defenses. Moreover, Alvarez fought a plethora of significant opponents between 2011 and 2015, including Kermit Cintrón, Shane Mosley, Austin Trout, Mayweather, Erislandy Lara (click here to watch that one), and Miguel Cotto.
Benavidez is one of the most exciting, rugged fighters in the world, but he needs to start fighting better competition. Benavidez is facing a former world champion and a hard puncher on May 21 in David Lemieux, who, of course, fought Golovkin in an October 2015 middleweight world title unification and was stopped in the 10th round. Of the guys Benavidez has fought so far, Lemieux’s resume is by far the best. He is, though, 33 years old, and has fought just once a year for the last three years.
If there’s anyone at 168 that deserves a shot at Canelo and has an opportunity to build himself up even more, it’s Benavidez— and PBC manages a slew of super middleweights, including former champion Caleb Plant, WBA “regular” titlist David Morrell, and current WBC 160-pound titlist Jermall Charlo should he decide to move up in weight.
Beat some names, build your brand, help build buzz by beating some top dogs—like Canelo said recently–then you can maybe get a date with the lead dog, Canelo.