Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya has a fight to promote between superstar Canelo Alvarez and super middleweight titlist Rocky Fielding on Dec. 15 at Madison Square Garden in New York, but the broadcast outlet remains up in the air and he plans to take his time sorting it out.
De La Hoya told ESPN on Monday night that he is talking to a variety of outlets interested in the services of Alvarez, the biggest pay-per-view attraction in boxing.
“In the next couple of weeks we will have a major announcement and it will be great for boxing, great for Canelo and great for Golden Boy. We are talking to everybody,” De La Hoya said.
Alvarez has been under exclusive contract to HBO since 2015, but the network recently announced that after 45 years of televising most of the sport’s biggest fights it would cease its involvement in boxing at the end of the year.
HBO holds an option on Alvarez’s next fight, meaning it has the right of a first negotiation and the last look. If the network makes an offer on the fight — no guarantee given it is winding down the franchise — De La Hoya has the right to shop it to other outlets with HBO having the right to match any offer.
But De La Hoya is not just seeking a long-term home for Alvarez. He is also looking for a landing spot for his company’s stable now that HBO is about to be out of the picture and his deal with ESPN for a series of lower-level shows expires at the end of the year and has not been renewed.
“A deal is very complex and it’s going to take a lot of strategizing,” De La Hoya said. “It has to be all-encompassing. That would be our plan.”
De La Hoya said he was not sure what HBO plans to do with its option on Alvarez.
“I’m going to meet with [HBO Sports executive vice president Peter Nelson] and I still haven’t talked to [HBO CEO] Richard Plepler, but in the next couple of weeks we will have something in writing,” De La Hoya said. “We understand we have a contract [option] with HBO but we’ve been approached by many platforms. Everyone wants to televise Canelo’s next fight, whether it’s on a digital platform of linear TV. And contrary to reports that are circulating, under no circumstances will we co-promote Canelo. Golden Boy is his promoter and we will continue to work to get Canelo the best deal possible.”
De La Hoya was responding to comments made by promoters such as Bob Arum of Top Rank and Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn about their efforts to sign Alvarez to a co-promotional deal with Golden Boy in order to have Alvarez to fight on the platforms they have deals with. Top Rank is tied to ESPN and Matchroom Boxing with sports streaming service DAZN.
“I won’t do a deal with Bob Arum or a deal with Eddie Hearn for Canelo,” De La Hoya said. “I’m going to go directly to the [platform] and make a deal. I don’t need another promoter. We are the promoter of the biggest star on the planet.”
Although Alvarez has generated hundreds of millions dollars on pay-per-view De La Hoya said he was not closing the door on DAZN, which has no plans for pay-per-view.
“You have to listen to them and take it from there,” he said. “At the end of the day it depends on how many zeroes are at the end of the check. That’s bottom line.”
Alvarez has a history with Showtime, which put on several of his pay-per-views, including his then-revenue record-setting fight with Floyd Mayweather in 2013.
“[Showtime Sports president] Stephen Espinoza has reached out and it’s only fair to hear him out,” De La Hoya said. “There are a couple of more [outlets] that I can’t mention that are also interested. When I have a deal done we’ll be able to announce it.”
De La Hoya is in the midst of a small five-show deal with Facebook for the social media giant to stream Golden Boy cards on Facebook Watch.
“Facebook for Canelo? You never know,” De La Hoya said. “[Facebook founder and CEO Mark] Zuckerberg has deep pockets.”
Alvarez scored the biggest win of his career on Sept. 15, a majority decision over Gennady Golovkin to win the unified middleweight world title in their anticipated rematch. Just three weeks later, Alvarez announced on social media on Friday that he would move up from 160 pounds to challenge secondary 168-pound titlist Fielding.
“It has always been a desire of mine to fight in New York, and where better than at the Mecca of boxing, Madison Square Garden,” Alvarez said on Monday. “I look forward to exploring this 168-pound division against current WBA world champion Rocky Fielding. I will be representing the WBC as its current middleweight world champion as I continue demonstrating to the world that I am the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.”
Win or lose, Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs), 28, of Mexico, would likely return to middleweight to defend his belts in that weight class.
The fight with Alvarez came out of the blue for Fielding (27-1, 15 KOs), 31, of England, when Golden Boy Promotions president Eric Gomez texted Hearn, Fielding’s promoter, to inquire about their interest in the fight. The opportunity was a no-brainer and the deal was hashed out quickly.
“This will be a huge night for Rocky Fielding, and one he couldn’t turn down — the chance to fight one of the biggest names of the sport in an iconic and historic venue in Madison Square Garden,” Hearn said. “Although Rocky is the champion, we thank Golden Boy Promotions, Oscar De La Hoya and Eric Gomez for this wonderful opportunity. New York can expect a Liverpool invasion on Dec. 15.”
Fielding has won six fights in a row since a first-round knockout loss in November 2015 to countryman Callum Smith, who won the WBA’s top world title and the World Boxing Super Series tournament on Sept. 28. Fielding, who won the belt by fifth-round knockout of Germany’s Tyron Zeuge on July 14 in Offenburg, Germany, will be making his first defense against Alvarez.
“This is everything that I’ve ever dreamed of — fighting a pound-for-pound star at Madison Square Garden for my world title,” Fielding said. “I can really punch. Everyone knows that. Let’s see what happens on the night when I catch him clean. He’s stepping up in weight, and he’s not going to be a big super middleweight. I know how good he is, but we will come up with a plan to beat him. I know I can catch him and put him to sleep.”
Alvarez has wanted to fight in New York and De La Hoya said he was pleased to be able to make the fight in place where he also fought during his Hall of Fame career.
“It was about time that the biggest star in boxing headed to Madison Square Garden,” De La Hoya said. “Nearly every great fighter has fought at this historic arena. Canelo is establishing a historic legacy, and I’m excited that fans in New York will be able to see this great talent in such a famed place for boxing.”
The only question, however, is on which broadcast platform will they see him?