The boxing vs. MMA rivalry is heating up once again. For years it looked like the sweet science was wilting and perhaps even dying away while the UFC surged upwards with record gates, PPV numbers, and most importantly, entertaining fights. Boxing just couldn’t seem to put together the big bouts consistently, and when they did they often ended up boring or with borderline corrupt decisions.
But something has changed in the past few years. Boxing’s heavyweight division is once again poppin’ thanks to the exit of the Klitschkos and era of Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua, and Tyson Fury. The lighter weightclasses have never been busier or more profitable. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez recently signed an insane $365 million contract with DAZN for 11 fights over five years.
Boxing can finally fight back against smears that it can’t compare entertainment wise to the UFC. Which is why DAZN’s decision to delay Alvarez’s latest fight was so unusual.
”Canelo” took on Sergey Kovalev on the 2nd of November, the same night as UFC 244 headlined by Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal. Instead of going directly head to head with the highly anticipated “Baddest Motherf**ker” bout, DAZN made the decision to have Alvarez-Kovalev start after Diaz-Masvidal ended. A smart idea in theory but poorly executed on fight night, as DAZN made its biggest star wait around for around 30 minutes before fighting.
It resulted in some strange scenes: boxing fans watching the UFC on the jumbotron above an empty ring. Shots of “Canelo” and Kovalev looking increasingly bored and annoyed as they lounged in their locker rooms waiting for the call. Unconfirmed reports have the gambit paying off for DAZN with subscriptions to the service for the fight spiking after UFC 244.
But Alvarez was not impressed.
”I will not allow them to do that, at least for my fights,” he told ESPN Deportes (via Boxing Scene). “I will talk to them.”
It didn’t have to be this way. It’s not like the Diaz vs. Masvidal fight started late or lasted too long. The problem arose when co-main Ryan Garcia knocked out his opponent Romero Duno in the first round of their twelve round fight. That left DAZN with the choice of killing a lot of time or losing the subscription bump they were clearly expecting from UFC 244 fans switching over. They chose the former. Maybe picking a co-main whose last 10 fights include 6 KOs in three rounds or less wasn’t the smartest?
We are 19-0! Here’s the fight for everyone that missed it! Enjoy pic.twitter.com/VoTRDMIH5f— Ryan Garcia (@KingRyanG) November 3, 2019
Ryan Garcia was just too damn skilled and entertaining. A good problem for boxing to have, but now DAZN has lost their start time flex privileges with Saul Alvarez.