Dougie’s Friday Mailbag (Canelo’s lawsuit, Lomachenko-Lopez)

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CANELO VS. DAZN

Hey Dougie,

How are you? Hope everything’s well with you and your family. I usually avoid discussing the business side of boxing because, number 1. I don’t know the whole picture; 2. I don’t have the actual contracts; and 3. I’m not a boxing manager or promoter.

This time though, I did want to chip in on my two cents. Why? Well because of the implications this has on the business of boxing. First off the numbers in the Canelo/DAZN deal never really added up (at least in my eyes) and now we’re seeing reality kick in (the pandemic has a lot to do with it, but really, we knew this was coming).

Now, I do want to state that I’m kind of on Canelo’s side in this one, normally boxers get the short end of the stick when the time comes. I’m glad Saul is not letting his guard down on this one. There’s no doubt in my mind that if things were the other way around, DAZN would do the same or even worse. They have way more resources and would do anything to drown him if he wouldn’t keep his side of the agreement.

With that being said, I’ve always thought that $30-35 million per fight was ludicrous and didn’t make any financial sense. Now, I understand the DAZN gets a Canelo and GGG and automatically gets people to subscribe part of the business, but in the long run we all know that it had to be adjusted.

In the end it’s all about making a profit and if DAZN doesn’t see any of it, they’ll surely want to renegotiate. With the pandemic and current situation, I understand DAZN’s position. They can’t pay Canelo that much money unless they get star power on the other side of the ring.   So, when they say they want a “premium” opponent, what they’re really saying is that they want a marketable star that can justify the purse financially and also make them a profit.

Out of all boxers around Canelo’s weight class there’s really one guy that comes close to that and that’s GGG and he would also demand his guaranteed purse, which would make it even higher. In other words, it can’t be done in the current situation no matter how you put it. You need an external guy like those two MMA guys they mentioned. That would bring a lot of new subscribers that would give them enough money to pay. So, for those out there saying these guys are not premium, well, they’re not quality or talent premium, they’re star power premium.

I do want to say that DAZN has done a terrible job in creating potential star opponents for Canelo and that’s why I think this is a problem they created themselves. Being in the boxing business is not just having the biggest star, you have to create fights, opponents, matchups, stories, money doesn’t solve everything. This is why whenever the Jay Zs or Dana Whites of the world say they want to get into boxing and that they would change it, most insiders laugh and say “Come on in buddy”.  Boxing is not that easy. DAZN has no boxing experience and you can see it in the way they’ve handled themselves over the last couple of years.    They want to be hip and modern and put most of their money into that but lack the vision an experienced promotional company like Top Rank and HBO has.

You need to build stars and match them up. You can’t have just one guy. The Showtime deal with Mayweather was like that too, and it seems nobody learned from that fiasco.

I have a few questions about this, and I would like to get your opinion.

1) Do you think this is really about the purse money for 1 fight or do you think Canelo’s looking for a way out? (I’ve heard he wants to be independent)

2) Do you think DAZN wants out of this contract?

3) Is there any other fighter out there other than Golovkin that would generate enough money to justify the 35 million per fight that Canelo was guaranteed?

4) What can DAZN learn from this?

5) Is Canelo being unreasonable?

6) What does this mean for Golden Boy Promotions?

7) Is Gennadiy Golovkin next? I’m sure that he won’t be happy if Canelo leaves, considering he signed with them because they guaranteed him a fight with him (again, I don’t really know if this is 100% true).

Finally, I don’t really think Canelo will win this one. I would be very surprised if DAZN didn’t safeguard themselves in every way possible with a contract designed by the best lawyers available. You’re talking about a 3rd of a Billion Dollar deal. You can’t screw that one up can you?

(Sorry for the long email, I think there’s a lot to talk about because this affects a lot of people, not just Canelo and DAZN.) Thanks Doug – Juan Valverde, Chula Vista

This a lot to unpack, Juan, but I’ll try to get to all of your questions. Keep in mind, I’m as much in the dark about the details of Canelo’s contract and the lawsuit as you are, and even if I had both documents in front of me there’s only so much of the legalese I could decipher and interpret. I went to journalism school, not law school.

Regarding DAZN “safeguarding themselves in every way possible,” it seems to me if they really wanted to ensure that they got what they wanted from the Canelo deal they would have set very explicit provisions in his contract that stated:

  1. He had to face Golovkin in 2019 (which I’m even not sure a network/streaming platform is allowed to do)
  2. He had to be willing to face anybody the company deemed “premium,” including but not limited to retired boxing hall of famers, MMA stars, YouTube influencers, etc., and ready to fight them whenever the company needed that fight/event to take place.

Now, I’ll breeze through your questions (by the way, seven questions is not a “few”):  

Do you think this is really about the purse money for 1 fight or do you think Canelo’s looking for a way out? (I’ve heard he wants to be independent).

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Canelo Alvarez celebrates his record-breaking DAZN deal and earning Ring middleweight and P4P belts following his rematch victory over GGG in 2018. Photo by Tom Hogan-HoganPhotos / Golden Boy Promotions

It seems as though Canelo has been upset since mid-last year. From my perspective, he seemed content, even enthused, about his new situation in late 2018 following the Golovkin rematch victory and subsequent signing of his record-breaking deal with DAZN. He was all smiles and good vibes prior to the Rocky Fielding and Daniel Jacobs fights. But I could tell that DAZN signing Golovkin and the reports that it was all but a done-deal that their third bout would happen last September pissed him off (especially when GGG, who was clearly trolling his rival, stated to the media that while he was “partnered” with DAZN, Canelo had to do what his “bosses” demanded of him). You know, as well as I do, how proud Canelo is. He doesn’t like ANYONE telling him what to do. Anyway, it seems like his relationship with both Golden Boy and DAZN became strained over the second half of 2019, and especially during the extended negotiation period prior to the Sergey Kovalev fight and during the build-up to that event. So, I think it’s more than just what DAZN has offered to pay him for one fight this year. However, I think he would he would have held off with this lawsuit had DAZN accepted one of his proposed opponents for September and paid at least 70% of his guaranteed purse.

Do you think DAZN wants out of this contract? No, I still think they want to be in the Canelo business (who wouldn’t?), they just don’t want to cough up $40 million twice a year (unless he’s fighting GGG, his promoter or popular MMA fighters apparently).

Is there any other fighter out there other than Golovkin that would generate enough money to justify the 35 million per fight that Canelo was

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Jermall Charlo. Photo by Andrew Hemingway/Showtime

guaranteed? There’s no active boxer that could help Canelo/DAZN cover his guarantee, and I’m not even sure Canelo-GGG 3 would deliver given the crowd restrictions and economic climate in the U.S. due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, if Jermall Charlo handles Sergiy Derevyanchenko in impressive fashion later this month, and then goes on to dominate another legit middleweight or two, such as Demetrius Andrade and/or Chris Eubank Jr., I think he could elevate to the level of fan support/star power that could generate mainstream media attention if he challenged Canelo. But that could take until the end of 2021. Same deal with David Benavidez. If he can make 168 pounds and beat a couple top-rated super middleweights (Callum Smith, Caleb Plant, Billy Joe Saunders, take your pick), he could be a very marketable “B-side” vs. Canelo.

What can DAZN learn from this? They can learn not to guarantee crazy money to anyone, even the biggest draws in boxing, unless they know that fighter has viable/marketable dance partners who are willing and able to perform on their platform. And if they do sign a superstar to a record-breaking, long-term, multi-fight contract, they to understand that they are going to take financial losses on at least half the events (if they’re lucky). They gotta have faith that their superstar will lock horns with at least one other superstar who can produce a blockbuster event like Lewis-Tyson, De La Hoya-Mayweather, Mayweather-Pacquiao or Mayweather-McGregor. Or, they can learn to guarantee different paydays for different levels of opponents, which they get the star fighter to agree to BEFORE he signs the dotted line.

Is Canelo being unreasonable? Well, is it unreasonable to expect somebody – in this case a multi-national subscription sports streaming service – to honor their contract? Most of us would say, no, but on the other hand, we are in the midst of a pandemic, and we also know how damn fractured and antagonistic the boxing business is.

What does this mean for Golden Boy Promotions? It’s too soon to tell, Juan. We don’t know if the lawsuit will make it to court, or if the parties can work it out among themselves or in arbitration. This is part of the business. It can be a mere bump in the road, an arduous climb up a steep mountain side, or a fall off a cliff. Time will tell. (And I know that many of you HATE that answer. LOL! Deal with it you impetuous fools! It’s the truth.)

Is Gennadiy Golovkin next? I don’t think so.

I’m sure that he won’t be happy if Canelo leaves, considering he signed with them because they guaranteed him a fight with him (again, I don’t really know if this is 100% true). He’ll probably claim that this lawsuit is all just a means of escaping a third bout (and there are a thousand #salty mother f__kers trolling their days and nights away on Twitter who will co-sign that claim).

I usually avoid discussing the business side of boxing because, number 1. I don’t know the whole picture; 2. I don’t have the actual contracts; and 3. I’m not a boxing manager or promoter. Nobody does. That’s not going to stop any hardcore head worth his #salt from fixating and pontificating on every conceivable outcome and scenario for Canelo/DAZN/GBP every day for the next three months, while high-profile/quality matchups like Charlo-Derevyanchenko, Charlo-Rosario, Briedis-Dorticos, Lomachenko-Lopez, Inoue-Moloney and Spence-Garcia come and go.

This time though, I did want to chip in on my two cents. Um, bro, this is at least TEN cents.

Well because of the implications this has on the business of boxing. Hey, settle down. Canelo is a star, Golden Boy is a world-class promotional company and DAZN is a major player in international sports broadcasting, but the three entities (even combined) aren’t bigger than boxing. The sport keeps rolling on. I am concerned about the up-and-comers in GBP’s stable, but hopefully the company and the streaming service can put their Canelo-related differences aside to put on fights involving Vergil Ortiz Jr., Ryan Garcia and several other promising young guns (it looks like Jaime Munguia-Tureano Johnson is on for October, and Garcia vs. Luke Campbell will land sometime in November or early December, so that’s a good sign). 

First off the numbers in the Canelo/DAZN deal never really added up (at least in my eyes) and now we’re seeing reality kick in (the pandemic has a lot to do with it, but really, we knew this was coming). Networks lose money when they guarantee stars $20 million+ per fight. We’ve seen this before with Evander Holyfield, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Manny Pacquiao (even with the pay-per-view platform).

Now, I do want to state that I’m kind of on Canelo’s side in this one, normally boxers get the short end of the stick when the time comes. I side with Canelo when it comes to DAZN’s choice of “premium” opponents, but I can understand the streaming service not wanting to shell out $20-35 million for a brutal beatdown of Anvil Yildirim or a stinkfest with Saunders. I can empathize with Golden Boy’s struggle to land solid B-sides given the dived nature of boxing and all the new jack prima donnas out there who want to demand $10 million, claim they need at least 15 weeks to prepare, or just flat-out turn down any offer out of spite or fear of losing.

With that being said, I’ve always thought that $30-35 million per fight was ludicrous and didn’t make any financial sense. Showtime lost money on most of Mayweather’s PPV events because of his crazy guarantee. But they stayed the course and the partnership finally paid off with #MayPac and #MayMac.

Now, I understand the DAZN gets a Canelo and GGG and automatically gets people to subscribe part of the business, but in the long run we all know that it had to be adjusted. They should have known it wouldn’t be as simple (and I’m sure there was nothing “simple” about it) as signing both middleweight stars to massive contracts. If they didn’t know then that people in boxing truly hate the f__k out of each other, they sure as hell do now.

In the end it’s all about making a profit and if DAZN doesn’t see any of it, they’ll surely want to renegotiate. Again, if they didn’t know then that the boxing world is stubborn to a fault, they sure a f__k do now.

With the pandemic and current situation, I understand DAZN’s position. They can’t pay Canelo that much money unless they get star power on the other side of the ring. Yeah, but they should have realized that BEFORE they signed him and they have considered who was out there and available to fight Canelo (and make for big events). Golovkin, who is getting on in years (and showing the wear and tear in the ring), was only going to be good for one more fight with Canelo and not last that much longer (win, lose or draw) after the rubber match.

So, when they say they want a “premium” opponent, what they’re really saying is that they want a marketable star that can justify the purse financially and also make them a profit. That’s fair, but they needed to realize before they got entered the U.S. market is that bona-fide “attractions” – stadium fighters like Canelo and Anthony Joshua, or even guys who can fill arenas like GGG – are VERY rare in boxing. The only mega-event that Canelo could engage in for the foreseeable future was the third bout with Golovkin. And if they were able to get that done in 2019, then what? Canelo is not like Floyd Mayweather. He’s very proud and extremely serious about the sport and his legacy. He’s not a showman. He’s not going to be interested or satisfied with knocking over non-boxers just to look like he’s invincible. That’s not how he wants to earn his money or reputation.

You need an external guy like those two MMA guys they mentioned. That would bring a lot of new subscribers that would give them enough money

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Dougie doesn’t think Canelo is interested in doing this for eight or nine rounds with an MMA fighter.

to pay. So, for those out there saying these guys are not premium, well, they’re not quality or talent premium, they’re star power premium. Canelo would never fight a Mixed Martial Artist. And if they were somehow able to convince him to face Coner McGregor or Jorge Masvidal in a sanctioned boxing match, there’s no way in hell he’d carry them the way Mayweather did with McGregor. He would absolutely brutalize them in less than a round or two. It would be as ugly as it would be one-sided. The event would do very well in terms of mainstream sports media attention and DAZN sign-ups, there’s no doubt in my mind about that, but the outcome would be a ridiculous blowout that would make Tyson-McNeely look competitive. The result would be heavily criticized, which would offend Canelo, who would probably be mad at himself for taking part in the high-profile sideshow and fed-up with his broadcast partner for talking him into the sham promotion.

I do want to say that DAZN has done a terrible job in creating potential star opponents for Canelo and that’s why I think this is a problem they created themselves. Well, they signed Jacobs, who is an elite middleweight/super middleweight, but they played that card as soon as they could. They also have Demetrius Andrade and Jaime Munguia, but the  WBO middleweight beltholder is, well, “Boo Boo” when it comes to crossover appeal, and your Tijuana homie has been exposed as way too young and raw to f__k with Canelo. They were “naïve” to believe that the glory of challenging the biggest star in North America, the middleweight champ and pound-for-pound king, AND the promise of making a career-high payday, would be enough to lure top 160- and 168-pounders into the ring and on the DAZN platform. And you know what? Maybe ten-to-15 years ago, they would have been right. But things done changed. The new guard is not concerned with legacies or glory, and they’d rather collect moderate paydays vs. beatable opposition than get a monster purse in a risky fight.

Being in the boxing business is not just having the biggest star, you have to create fights, opponents, matchups, stories, money doesn’t solve everything. This is why whenever the Jay Zs or Dana Whites of the world say they want to get into boxing and that they would change it, most insiders laugh and say “Come on in buddy”. Boxing is not that easy. Nope. It’s the toughest sport and the hardest business.

 

LOMACHENKO-LOPEZ

Hey Doug,
I hope you’re doing well in this weird time. It’s been a while since I’ve written in, but I’m excited boxing is back. We’ve already had a KOTY and an interesting style clash between Ramirez-Postol.

I saw you at Sor Rungvisai-Chocolatito 2, but I didn’t get a chance to say hello. How is it possible I’ve been reading this mailbag for 20 years?

Anyway, I’m writing because I’m beyond excited for Lomachenko-Lopez. This is one of the best fights that can be made in the sport, in an era when the best aren’t fighting each other, and I’m a fan of both of their styles, hearts, and personalities. You have to love Lomachenko GIVING AWAY part of his purse to Lopez to make the fight happen, especially in this day and age. That is OLD SCHOOL. I think we’re in for a real treat in October – a modern-day classic.

For a couple of years now I’ve been pretty confident in picking Lomachenko to survive a scary moment or two, take control of this fight, and outbox Lopez in the later rounds, leading to a clear UD. How will Lopez deal with Lomachenko’s footwork, for example? But now I’m starting to think Lopez is going to win this by late KO. For one thing, I get the sense that Lomachenko has disdain for Lopez, and thinks Lopez’s style is made for him. He seems to be dismissing Lopez, and it isn’t just giving away his purse that has me thinking that. You could tell how Lomachenko felt about Lopez from the way he picked Commey over him, as I did admittedly. Oops.

But now I see Lopez grinding down Lomachenko by switching up his game and fighting a swarming, brawling style like Siri Salido did, except Lopez has more power and youth on his side. I also don’t think Lomachenko has seen one-punch power like Lopez is going to deliver, and I suspect he’s underestimating Lopez’s hand speed, and that more than anything will be the deciding factor. What do you think of this analysis? How do you see the fight going and do you see Lopez switching up his style to beat up on Lomachenko’s body, arms, and anything he can touch?

Also, let’s say Lomachenko wins. Do you agree with Breadman that there’s no way Lomachenko goes undefeated vs. Lopez, Haney, Davis, and R. Garcia? How do you see those fights playing out?

Finally, and sorry this is so long, we all know Lopez isn’t long for the lightweight division, so how do you see him doing vs. Taylor, Ramirez, and Prograis? Thanks, Doug! – Mark in LA

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Teofimo Lopez exhibits off-the-charts athleticism and accuracy during his fights.

He’s live against all three. That’s how talented the young man is (and I think he’ll be stronger and sturdier at 140 than he is squeezing his body down to 135). However, right now, I’d favor Taylor and Prograis. Ramirez’s straight forward style might play to Lopez’s many strengths (as a dynamic counterpuncher/boxer-puncher), so I can see him getting the nod there, but it’s be a great fight (as would the other two junior welterweight matchups).

I agree with Breadman that Lomachenko wouldn’t go unbeaten vs. all four young guns, but it’s a moot point. Boxing is too divided to deliver all four of those matchups. We’re lucky we’re getting Loma-Lopez.  

I hope you’re doing well in this weird time. I’m doing what I can, which is keeping me quite busy, and I’m grateful for that.

It’s been a while since I’ve written in, but I’m excited boxing is back. We’ve already had a KOTY and an interesting style clash between Ramirez-Postol. Hey, you’ve got the right attitude. Everybody else focused on a lawsuit and looking forward to a possible court case.

I saw you at Sor Rungvisai-Chocolatito 2, but I didn’t get a chance to say hello. Well, don’t be a stranger when you see me at Chocolatito-Estrada II or Chocolatatito-Sor Rungvisai III (or Estrada-Sor Rungvisai III).

How is it possible I’ve been reading this mailbag for 20 years? I don’t know, man, but you’re getting old!

For a couple of years now I’ve been pretty confident in picking Lomachenko to survive a scary moment or two, take control of this fight, and outbox Lopez in the later rounds, leading to a clear UD. That’s how I still see it, although I think it could be a close UD. It will definitely be competitive.

How will Lopez deal with Lomachenko’s footwork, for example? Good question. Who has he fought that has Loma’s mobility, agility and ring generalship?

But now I’m starting to think Lopez is going to win this by late KO. You’re not alone.

For one thing, I get the sense that Lomachenko has disdain for Lopez, and thinks Lopez’s style is made for him. Really? He doesn’t seem like the kind of competitor who underestimates his opposition.

He seems to be dismissing Lopez, and it isn’t just giving away his purse that has me thinking that. You could tell how Lomachenko felt about Lopez from the way he picked Commey over him, as I did admittedly. Oops. He might just be trying to get under the young man’s skin and into his head. Ring generals like Loma like to make their opponents mad. An angry fighter usually isn’t a thinking fighter, and Loma likes to play high-speed chess.

But now I see Lopez grinding down Lomachenko by switching up his game and fighting a swarming, brawling style like Siri Salido did, except Lopez has more power and youth on his side. I don’t think it’s that simple, Mark. A fighter, even one as talented as Lopez, can’t just emulate the style of a fighter that gave Loma hell for 12 rounds and expect to have the same success. Salido didn’t just trouble

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Saldio (right) on the attack vs. a 1-0 Lomachenko.

Loma with his swarming pressure and volume punching, the Mexican veteran brought many years of experience (including the d__k-move of missing weight and a lot roughhouse tactics/blatant fouling) to the table. Salido had 55 pro bouts and 10 world title bouts under his belt when he faced the Ukrainian amateur legend. Siri had shared the ring with prime versions of Juan Manuel Marquez, JuanMa Lopez (twice), Yuriorkis Gamboa and Mikey Garcia. Lopez has 15 pro bouts under his belt, only one world title bout, which lasted less than two rounds. Commey is the best fighter he’s faced so far. And he’s not going to be facing the 1-0 version of Loma, still making the amateur-to-pro transition, that Salido fought. Lopez is facing a three-division titleholder, the unified/Ring Magazine lightweight champ who has fought in 13 consecutive world title bouts since the loss to Salido.

I also don’t think Lomachenko has seen one-punch power like Lopez is going to deliver, and I suspect he’s underestimating Lopez’s hand speed, and that more than anything will be the deciding factor. You’re right about Lopez being the hardest puncher Loma has faced in the pro ranks, but if he has eyes (and he does, good ones, along with his father-trainer’s eyes) he understands that he’s also going to share the ring with a speed demon, and I’m sure Papachenko will have him ready for that.

What do you think of this analysis? I think you’re making too many assumptions (Loma overlooking or underestimating Lopez, Lopez abandoning his style for the pressure/mauler tactics of Salido), but that doesn’t mean your prediction won’t pan out. Lopez is a threat to any lightweight, including the champ, who really isn’t a 135 pounder.

How do you see the fight going and do you see Lopez switching up his style to beat up on Lomachenko’s body, arms, and anything he can touch? No, I don’t think Lopez will change his spots for Loma. That would be an admission that Loma’s talent and style is too tricky for his (and Team Lopez is too proud and confident for that, plus it’s usually a mistake to ditch what got you to the big dance and try to employ a different style; that’s what f__ked up a lot of Mayweather’s opponents). I think Lopez can compete boxing his usual dynamic/athletic counterpunching style and it will be a hotly contested and compelling distance bout that Loma pulls out by a few points.

 

Email Fischer at dougie@boxingmailbag.com. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and join him, Tom Loeffler, Coach Schwartz and friends via Tom’s Periscope every Sunday.

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