With HBO throwing in the towel on boxing, one of its biggest fighters is heading to online streaming.
Canelo Alvarez has signed a five-year, 11-fight deal with DAZN, the sports streaming service led by former ESPN president John Skipper. Alvarez’s deal, which is for a minimum $365 million, according to an insider with knowledge of the deal, is the richest sports contract for any athlete in history. The total amount could be more, if certain subscription benchmarks are hit.
The $365 million surpasses the 13-year/$325 million contract that baseball star Giancarlo Stanton signed with the Miami Marlins in 2014 (he’s since been traded to the New York Yankees).
The deal begins with the Dec. 15 bout at Madison Square Garden against Rocky Fielding for his WBA Super Middleweight World Title.
“We are thrilled to be exclusive partners with Golden Boy Promotions and Oscar De La Hoya,” said Skipper, DAZN Group Executive Chairman. “By bringing Canelo’s fights to DAZN, we will turn his pay-per-view success into a growth engine for subscribers – a truly transformational moment for our business and the entire industry.”
Skipper, who resigned from ESPN after 27 years last December, joined DAZN’s parent company Perform Group as executive chairman in May. DAZN was launched just two years ago, and made its U.S. debut earlier this year.
As part of the deal, Golden Boy Promotions — Alvarez’s management company led by Oscar de la Hoya — will put on up to 10 fights each year on DAZN beginning in 2019. The DAZN-Golden Boy deal includes a large production element, which places Oscar De La Hoya as executive producer of the live fight nights.
Alvarez and Golden Boy were one of HBO’s biggest boxing draws. In 2014, HBO pried Alvarez and Golden Boy away from rival Showtime in a huge exclusive deal. But last month, HBO said it would no longer feature live boxing matches beginning next year, which had a programming staple for 45 years.
The deal between Alvarez and DAZN in landmark in another way: It will take one of boxing’s biggest draws off Pay-Per-View, where the sport makes the most of its money. The fights will be available in all DAZN markets, including the United States, Canada, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Japan. The service is available for $9.99 per month.