In late 2013, when Richard Schaefer still ran Golden Boy Promotions, he and Canelo Alvarez announced that Alvarez would fight three times on Showtime PPV this year: March 8, July 26 and Nov. 22.
Indeed, Alvarez knocked out Alfredo Angulo on March 8 and then outpointed Erislandy Lara, albeit on July 12. Both were on Showtime PPV and both did solid numbers -- a little over 300,000 buys -- considering Alvarez had never before headlined a pay-per-view as the A side of the promotion.
But fight No. 3 of this year? Well let’s just say things aren’t what they were a year ago.
Schaefer resigned as Golden Boy CEO, Oscar De La Hoya has taken the day-to-day reins of the company and he is also quietly trying to repair the company’s fractured relationship with HBO, the network that basically put Golden Boy in business and the network on which De La Hoya became a mega PPV star. It is also the network that grew so tired of dealing with Schaefer and adviser Al Haymon, who controlled many of the fighters on Golden Boy’s cards, that HBO banished Golden Boy fighters from the network.
And although Showtime has been the exclusive home for Golden Boy’s biggest cards since, behind the scenes there are issues, namely that many of those cards Golden Boy puts on are controlled by Haymon, and De La Hoya isn’t happy about it. Why else do you think we saw the Danny Garcia-Rod Salka/Lamont Peterson-Edgar Santana mess?
Most of Haymon’s fighters who regularly appear on Showtime are not under contract to Golden Boy, even though GB promotes the cards. This was one of the issues that came between De La Hoya and Schaefer.
There was a recent thaw in the Golden Boy/HBO relationship a few weeks ago when it made a deal to televise the Nov. 8 light heavyweight unification fight between Bernard Hopkins, who is with Golden Boy, and Sergey Kovalev, whom HBO has under contract.
As it relates to Alvarez, he is under contract to Golden Boy and not involved with Haymon. And he got his start on premium cable on HBO and, this is most significant, his biggest fight looms with middleweight champion Miguel Cotto, who is aligned with HBO, which plans to carry Cotto's Dec. 13 title defense against an opponent to be determined on HBO PPV.
Alvarez met in recent days with Golden Boy executives to talk about his next fight and I am telling you there is a good chance that it winds up on regular HBO (and not Showtime or Showtime PPV). That would be a big deal and would likely deliver a huge viewership number for HBO.
“We had a very good meeting with Canelo and we’re talking with him about opponents,” Golden Boy vice president Eric Gomez told ESPN.com on Friday. “We’re actually waiting for the date. He gave us a couple of dates and we’re looking into everything. But he wants to fight late November or early December. We have to work on it.”
The opponent is not set, but it is no secret that Alvarez could face big banger James Kirkland, whose last fight was on HBO (a knockout last December against Glen Tapia in a wild brawl).
Then Gomez caught me by surprise when he added, “Canelo isn’t going to go pay-per-view. We don’t want to saturate the market. He’s willing to go live on either Showtime or HBO. We’ll see. Maybe another network. He has no contract with any network. We’re working on things.”
That is the first time in a lonnngggg time that anyone in a position of authority has specifically stated that Alvarez was a television free agent and, further, used the H-word (HBO) in relation to his future.
It leads me to believe, without question, that Alvarez is likely headed back to HBO for his next fight. I believe it would be part of a deal that would also lock Alvarez into HBO for multiple fights, including a potential spring or summer 2015 showdown with Cotto for the middleweight title.
Let’s look at the late November and early December schedule, which means Nov. 15, Nov. 22, Nov. 28, Dec. 6 or Dec. 13.
Nov. 22 is out because that is Manny Pacquiao’s HBO PPV date with Chris Algieri. Nov. 28 is out because that is already ticketed for Terence Crawford’s next lightweight title defense on HBO. Dec. 13 is out because that is Cotto’s HBO PPV date.
That tells me that if Alvarez returns to HBO, it means a fight on either Nov. 15, which would be a huge telecast on which to promote Pacquiao’s PPV, or Dec. 6, which would be a great way to promote Cotto’s PPV the following week and remind people that wins by Alvarez and Cotto could lead to the super fight after that.
Now that Top Rank, Cotto’s promoter, and Golden Boy, Alvarez’s promoter, say they are ready, willing and able to make fights together, a Cotto-Alvarez fight could get done on HBO PPV without the involvement of Haymon, whom Top Rank does not work with.
All of this is not to say that Showtime couldn’t make a big offer to keep Alvarez for his next fight, but if I were a betting man here’s my take: Alvarez returns to HBO for a fight on Nov. 15 or Dec. 6 with the big payoff coming in May (Cinco de Mayo weekend) or June (Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend) for the biggest fight in boxing this side of Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao.
Check back with me in a few months to see how well my crystal ball works.