Canelo Alvarez signs largest contract in the history of sport

Boxer Canelo Alvarez at Madison Square Garden in New York. He will meet Rocky Fielding in a 12-round, super middleweight bout in December. (AP Photo)
Updated 17 October 2018
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Canelo Alvarez signs largest contract in the history of sport

  • A massive moneymaker when he fought on pay-per-view, Alvarez will be able to be seen for much cheaper on the sports-streaming service DAZN
  • A third fight with Golovkin could feature in the 11-fight deal after their draw and Alvarez’s narrow victory in the rematch

NEW YORK: Canelo Alvarez is boxing’s new $365 million man.
Alvarez has signed an 11-fight deal that his promotional company says is the richest athlete contract in sports history, guaranteeing the Mexican middleweight champion at least that much money to have his fights shown on the sports-streaming service DAZN, beginning with his next bout.
Alvarez will move up in weight to challenge WBA super middleweight champion Rocky Fielding on Dec. 15 at Madison Square Garden.
A massive moneymaker when he fought on pay-per-view, Alvarez will be able to be seen for much cheaper through the subscription service that launched in the US in September and now features perhaps the two biggest figures in boxing in Alvarez and heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.
“We have No. 1 and No. 2. They’re the two most important fighters in the world,” DAZN executive chairman John Skipper said. “Canelo fighting on DAZN, we believe that that will help us attract some of the other fighters, some of the other premier fighters.”
Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs) is coming off a victory over Gennady Golovkin in a middleweight showdown in September. That fight, like most of boxing’s biggest, was shown on pay-per-view. It cost $84.95 to be seen in high definition.
And while planning his next fight, Golden Boy Promotions also needed a place to put it. With HBO bowing out of boxing after this year, the company had talks with Showtime, ESPN and Turner Sports about televising Alvarez’s future bouts.
But Skipper made an aggressive offer for DAZN (pronounced Da-Zone) when he met with Golden Boy about two weeks ago and the deal was quickly finalized.
“John came with the best deal. John Skipper came, he wasn’t playing games,” Golden Boy President Eric Gomez said. “He said, our first meeting with him over two weeks ago, he came to our office and said, ‘I’ve got a blank check, I’m not leaving until we make a deal.’ And he put his money where his mouth is.”
Skipper said it wasn’t quite a blank check, but one that ensured Alvarez wouldn’t be taking a pay cut to leave pay-per-view. He said Alvarez’s last three fights generated 3.6 million buys and nearly a quarter of a billion dollars, making him someone who can be transformative to a subscription service focused largely — at least for now — on combat sports.
“So I’ve got to find those fans,” Skipper said. “They are going to want to watch his fights and they’re going to get to buy them for a lot less expensive than they did before.”
It will cost them $9.99 a month for a subscription in the US Under the five-year partnership, Golden Boy also will put on up to 10 fight nights per year that will stream live on DAZN beginning in early 2019.
Gomez said Alvarez is committed to fighting 11 times during the deal and willing to fight any of the contenders at 160 or 168 pounds. Alvarez said for now his plan is to return to 160 after the bout against Fielding (27-1, 15 KOs), a British fighter who appeared significantly taller than Alvarez, who will be trying to win a title in his third weight class.
A third fight with Golovkin would be a natural after their draw and Alvarez’s narrow victory in the rematch, but there would be plenty more options at middleweight if they don’t meet again.
Whoever he ends up with, at least Alvarez knows now where it can be seen.
“I’ve always said that when one door closes another one opens and we’re very happy with this new alliance that we’ve made with DAZN,” Alvarez said through an interpreter. “Forget about what the price is, the amount of money that we’re making. The most important thing is that fans can enjoy this fight at a very low price.”


Meet the Saudi Arabian businessman shaping squash’s Olympic dream

Updated 14 November 2018
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Meet the Saudi Arabian businessman shaping squash’s Olympic dream

LONDON: A Saudi Arabian businessman is driving the bid to get squash included in the Olympics for the first time.
The World Squash Federation has petitioned three times for squash to join the Games, but each bid has been rejected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The decision has prompted frustration in the squash community, particularly as sports such as climbing, surfing and skateboarding have been admitted.
Ziad Al-Turki is the Chairman of the Professional Squash Association (PSA) and has done wonders in marketing the game and broadening its appeal. He is now pushing hard for the game to be showcased on the biggest stage of all at the 2024 Olympics Games in Paris.
Squash has huge global appeal, with the men’s singles final in the last Commonwealth Games attracting a TV audience of more than one million.
“Everyone’s ultimate goal is the Olympics,” said Al-Turki. “The main push comes from the World Squash Federation (WSF) and for many years they were stuck in their ways. We changed a lot at the PSA and ticked every box with the IOC. The WSF just stayed stagnant and didn’t do anything. They didn’t want to put our hand in their hand and work together.”
Relations between the PSA and the WSF came to a head in 2015 in the wake of squash losing out to wrestling for a spot at the 2020 Olympics. A statement from the PSA described the then president of WSF, Narayana Ramachandran, as an “embarrassment to the sport.”
“Nothing could happen with the president of the WSF. Nothing would change. It was just a one-man show. We tried to help but he wouldn’t accept any help,” Al-Turki said. “We have a new president now and they are all very keen,” he added.
Jacques Fontaine is the new president and at his coronation in 2016 he encouragingly said “the Olympic agenda remains a priority.”
“The WSF love the sport and they understand the needs of the IOC,” said Al-Turki.
“They understand the PSA is at a completely different level to the WSF and we’ve now joined forces and are working together. Hopefully 2024 will be the year squash is in the Olympics. Right now, the way we are working together is the strongest collaboration ever and hopefully we can tick all the boxes for the IOC.
“We ticked all the right bodies as a professional association but the WSF didn’t. Now they are putting their hands in ours and we will tick all the right boxes for the ICO.”
Al-Turki, once described as the Bernie Ecclestone of squash, has certainly transformed the sport since he took up office in 2008.
“When I joined the PSA we didn’t have any media coverage,” he said. “Right now we are live in 154 countries. the women’s tour has just grown stronger and stronger — the income has gone up by 74 percent.
“I just love the squash players. I think they are incredible athletes are are some of the fittest athletes in the world. I felt they deserved better and I wanted them to have better.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to reach the levels of football and tennis in terms of exposure and prize money, but I want to reach a level where they will retire comfortably. It’s one of the fastest growing sports in the world right now.
“It’s all about the player and their well being. Nick Matthew retired recently and I think he’s retired comfortably. I think I’ve contributed to this as the income has improved. That’s all I want – nothing more.”