Top 3 observations from boxer Canelo Alvarez's new multi-bout deal with HBO

September 23, 2014

Canelo Alvarez / Photo Credit: Image Group LA

Los Angeles -- At a press conference today, Golden Boy Promotions founder Oscar De La Hoya, HBO Sports President Ken Hershman, and boxing star Canelo Álvarez announced a new agreement to showcase the popular fighter's matches on HBO.

The deal figures to significantly impact the sport in the next few years, not only by bringing more Golden Boy fighters back to HBO, but also by perhaps providing fans with more desirable matchups.

The loser in all of this? Showtime, HBO's rival network.  It was dealt a couple of blows today, but more on that later.

"For all of my career, I have wanted to fight on HBO for one main reason -- I believe it will allow more of my fans to see me in action," said Álvarez (44-1-1, 31KOs). "Today marks a huge milestone for me, and I look forward to a long and successful partnership with HBO."

Álvarez, a skilled boxer-puncher with pop, made his pro debut in 2005 at 15-years-old and quickly became one of the most popular prize fighters in the sport.

A former world champion, Canelo's record includes victories over some of the best fighters in the light-middleweight division, including Austin "No Doubt" Trout, Alfredo "El Perro" Angulo, Sugar Shane Mosley, and dangerous Cuban southpaw Erislandy Lara.

Canelo's lone blemish in 46 fights came in September 2013 against Floyd Mayweather in the highest grossing bout of all time, a fight televised by none other than Showtime.

"Everyone at HBO is excited to welcome back Canelo Álvarez to the HBO family, and we can't wait to re-introduce him to our subscribers," said Hershman. "At only 24-years-old, Canelo has already established himself as one of the boxing world's brightest stars, and we look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship as we embark on this new chapter together. We are delighted to partner with Oscar de la Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions in presenting Canelo's fights and events on our various platforms."

Canelo has previously fought seven times on HBO platforms in his pro career; three times on the HBO Boxing After Dark series in 2011 against Kermit Cintron, Matthew Hatton, and Ryan Rhodes, and four on the HBO Pay-Per-View platform versus Jose Miguel Cotto (2010), Carlos "Tata" Baldomir (2010), Alfonso Gomez (2011), and Sugar Shane Mosley (2012).

Here are our Top 3 observations from this deal:

#1  Showtime's Mayweather deal caused them to lose Alvarez

The big loser in this deal is Showtime, as it was dealt two body blows today.  The first blow was obvious: the loss of Alvarez from its network.

When Golden Boy and HBO had their dispute some time ago, Showtime became the clear beneficiary.  Their network was revitalized and soon they were showing Golden Boy bouts exclusively.  HBO, meanwhile, became the de facto network of rival promoter Top Rank.

Showtime then signed a six-fight deal with PPV star Floyd Mayweather, which from a business standpoint, has generated significant dollars for the network.  However, that deal also produced a collateral effect, in that it got under the skin of Alvarez.

Alvarez is boxing's next big star and already an established PPV force, but he did not like the fact that Showtime was giving Mayweather priority on Cinco De Mayo and Mexican Independence Day weekends.  Canelo has been vocal in the past about wanting to headline cards on those dates.

To Canelo, those weekends should showcase Mexican fighters -- such as himself -- because they are Mexican-themed holidays.  Instead, Showtime's programming those past two weekends has involved bouts with Mayweather and Marcos Maidana, neither of whom is Mexican or Mexican-American.

Moreover, in Canelo's eyes, there is no guarantee that Mayweather actually would retire when his Showtime deal ends in 2015.  After all, because Floyd still appears to be in top condition and as skilled as ever, the harsh reality for Canelo was that he might not get to fight on his preferred dates for several years, not just one.

So by temporarily allying themselves for six fights with the sport's biggest star in Mayweather, Showtime has lost arguably boxing's most popular star of the future.

#1(a)  In an unrelated matter, Mayweather causes Showtime's "All Access" show to lose credibility

Losing a star boxer is one thing, but losing the credibility of your televised programming is an entirely worse proposition.

In a matter that had nothing to do with Canelo's announcement other than the fact that it also negatively affected Showtime, today Mayweather claimed Showtime's "All Access" behind-the-scences reality show was staged, in part at least.

The "disclosure" arose when the Nevada State Athletic Commission investigated an incident on the show involving Mayweather.  The incident occurred at Mayweather's gym, and involved two young fighters of different weights sparring for an uninterrupted 31-minute round.

On the show, Mayweather, who is an executive producer, compared such "dog house" contests to a sort of survival-of-the-fittest battle in his gym, as if it was a somewhat commonplace event.

To the Commission, such amateur sparring without proper rest breaks was alarming, especially since Mayweather was recently approved for a promoter's license, and thus, in the State's eyes, should be held to a higher standard.

So when confronted by Nevada officials about the sparring and about depictions of marijuana use by his sycophant entourage, Mayweather allegedly claimed it was all fake and was merely put on camera to generate interest in his upcoming fight.

For a man who seemingly has discord and disputes with every close friend, girlfriend, employee, or relative he knows, the tactic was a classic Mayweather self-preservation move.

Essentially, he moved to save his own neck and his promoter's license by throwing Showtime under the bus.

The Commission responded by simply advising Mayweather to get the proper permits for amateur sparring at his gym, and by requesting that he inform them when such future shows would incorporate fictitious elements into the broadcast.

Meanwhile, Showtime, which markets "All Access" as a truthful sneak peek at its star fighters, will have some 'splaining to do to say the least.

As of press time, the network has not made any statements about its programming.

It will be amusing to see what happens when Mayweather prepares for his next fight in May.  Will Showtime even try to do another "All Access" show knowing that its star attraction has publicly stated that it's partly fake?

Will the network's credibility be damaged beyond repair for its other sports programming, such as its documentary films?

Not a good day for Showtime today, to say the least.

#2  More Canelo bouts on Cinco De Mayo and Mexican Independence weekends

Another development to watch will be the return of Canelo bouts in May and September.  Reportedly, Canelo is planning to fight a tune-up bout in December against veteran Joshua Clottey, with the hope that he will prevail and set himself up for a showdown with Puerto Rican star Miguel Cotto in the summer.

But once those plans are completed, the goal for Canelo is to get back to fighting on the two biggest boxing weekends of the year.

HBO seemingly is committed to Canelo, and would do whatever it can to facilitate such fights.

What will be interesting to see is whether Mayweather elects to retire as planned in 2015, or if he decides to have an additional fight or two.  If he passes on retirement, we might have two mega-fights on separate networks on the same weekends in May and September.

One thing is certain however: Canelo will spend Cinco de Mayo 2016 weekend in the ring.

#3 Less politics, potentially better fights (We hope)

When Oscar De La Hoya and business partner Richard Schaefer had their recent split, many believed it was good for boxing.

Schaefer had helped make Golden Boy's coffers rich, but also facilitated a climate of discord in the sport that led to fighters competing only on certain networks and only against boxers from their same promotional stable.

Oscar might not have the business acumen of Schaefer, and Schaefer's departure very well could cause Golden Boy Promotions to suffer a drop in revenue.

However, De La Hoya is a fighter at heart, and to him, the sport is at its best when the top fighters compete against each other regardless of their promoter's affiliations.

"I'm thrilled to be part of this historic agreement between Canelo Álvarez and HBO Sports, an agreement that marks another major step in Golden Boy Promotions' primary goal-to give boxing fans the fights they want to see," said De La Hoya. "Canelo is the best young fighter in the sport, and this move will help line him up to fight top opponents in the sport for many years to come."

De La Hoya has reached out to rival promoter Top Rank and has apparently buried the hatchet now with HBO.  Whatever his motivation, it's safe to say that fans will now have a better chance of seeing boxers from different camps fight each other, at least much more so than a year ago.

By Staff of the and news services

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