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DiBella talks Canelo Alvarez lawsuit with DAZN & Golden Boy

Canelo Alvarez Oscar De La Hoya

By Jim Maltzman: Promoter Lou DiBella believes that the contract that Canelo Alvarez had with Golden Boy Promotions doesn’t match the one that Golden Boy has with DAZN.

DiBella feels that Golden Boy may have led DAZN to believe that Canelo would fight Gennady Golovkin, a fighter that the streaming service wanted him to fight.

Canelo is suing DAZN, Oscar De La Hoya, and Golden Boy over his contract. DAZN had reportedly chosen not to offer Canelo the money he had been getting when Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders’ names were floated as potential opponents for 2020.

Both of those fighters are super middleweight world champions, but neither of them is well known in the United States with the casual fans.

As a result of Canelo not getting the offer that he wanted to fight Saunders and Smith, h’s not fought in 2020, and it’s looking like he won’t see action for the remainder of the year.

Canelo recently missed out on fighting on the Mexican Independence Day holiday this month. He usually fights on that holiday, but not this year due to his problems with DAZN.

Conflicting deals

“I did anticipate it actually,” said DiBella to Secondsout about the dispute between Canelo, DAZN, and Golden Boy. “I did in a sense that I don’t think that it’s the pandemic that brought this around, and I don’t think it’s outrageous that DAZN requested that Canelo take a reduction in his purse.

“But this has been a long time coming, and it’s been a long time coming because there’s an obvious disconnect between Canelo, Golden Boy, and DAZN. I read the lawsuit [from Canelo’s attorney], and I didn’t think it was the greatest lawsuit that I ever read in terms of how it was written.

“But it’s clear they wanted to get to court, and they wanted to open discussions. I understand fully why Canelo filed. But if you read the lawsuit, the one obvious thing is the following.

“The deal that Canelo has with Golden Boy doesn’t appear to jive with the deal that Golden Boy made with DAZN, and there appears to have been a very shocking lack of transparency and communication. So it’s no accident that they are in this situation,” said DiBella.

It would be interesting to know if Golden Boy’s contract with DAZN differs from the one that Canelo has with them. If Golden Boy promised DAZN Golovkin fight, but then left that out of their contract with Canelo, you’d have wonder why.

Canelo Alvarez Oscar De La Hoya

It’s reasonable for DAZN to want a premium opponent

“I’m a lawyer; I want to Harvard, I’m a smart guy,” said DiBella. “And I was a really good lawyer. I didn’t like being a lawyer, but I was good at it. As a lawyer, there’s a lot more to this.

“People hear ‘premium opponent,’ and they’re all arguing on the Internet. ‘Is so and so a premium opponent?’ No, that’s not the issue. The issue is, what does the provision read? What does it say?

“Canelo, in his lawsuit, basically said, ‘Here is my opponent provision’ that says it’s mutually agreed, but I’ve come to learn that the provision [that Canelo] has is different than the DAZN agreement.

“For example, if the DAZN agreement says, ‘a premium opponent is in the sole discretion of DAZN,’ then the word premium and what it means doesn’t f**** matter.

“Is it reasonable for DAZN to say, ‘I paid 35, 40 million for fight A, B, and C and it didn’t move the needle enough? So now I’m insisting on a huge fight, and I’m not accepting the next fight as a premium opponent, even if it’s a quality opponent,'” said Lou.

It’s understandable why DAZN would hesitate to pay Canelo what he got for his first three fights of his 11-fight, $365 million. By that time, DAZN had already seen what the subscription numbers were for Canelo’s matches against Danny Jacobs, Sergey Kovalev, and Rocky Fielding.

If DAZN projected that they would gain nothing by Canelo picking Callum Smith or Saunders, then you can see why they would want to offer him less,” DiBella said.

Canelo picked the wrong fighters three times in a row against Fielding, Kovalev, and Jacobs He should have been fighting Golovkin instead of those fighters.

Saunders and Smith were the farthest you could get from that of a premium opponent. Those two would not do much for DAZN in bringing in new subscribers, and, interestingly, Canelo and Golden Boy would even thing of fighting either of those guys during the pandemic.

DAZN needs Canelo to fight Gennady Golovkin, and it would help if he fought him more than once. That’s not going to happen, though.

Did Golden Boy promise DAZN the Golovkin fight?

There’s no argument that Callum Smith isn’t a quality opponent,” said Lou. “There’s no argument that Billy Joe is not a quality opponent. Of course, they’re quality opponents.

“They’re competitive fights; they’re quality opponents. That being said, does Billy Joe Saunders, outside of the UK, does Billy Joe Saunders or Callum Smith mean anything? They don’t mean s***.

“No offense to them. They’re stars in the UK. They are among hardcore boxing fans, that being a keyword, ‘hardcore boxing fans,’ which outside of Great Britain there aren’t that many.

They’re known, but they’re [Saunders and Smith] not known to casuals. They’re not known to the type of sports fans that DAZN needs to subscribe to survive. So we don’t know yet because it wasn’t in that document.

Canelo Alvarez Oscar De La Hoya

“What does the opponent approval provision say in the DAZN-Golden Boy agreement? I’ve been led to believe by many, many, many people that would know that Golden Boy promised DAZN the GGG fight,” DiBella said.

Golden Boy would know if they promised DAZN the Canelo vs. Golovkin fight. The way that Oscar De La Hoya is talking, you would assume that they didn’t promise DAZN the GGG fight.

De La Hoya has been saying that DAZN needs to live up to their contractual obligations. Why would he say that if Golden Boy had it written in their contract with DAZN that Canelo will fight Golovkin?

The door opened for direct conversations

“It’s no accident that they still haven’t gotten it [Canelo-Golovkin III], and why haven’t they gotten it?” continued DiBella. “Apparently, Golden Boy never secured the right from Canelo to promise that. 

“So there’s a big argument here that DAZN didn’t get what they bargained for. And you can debate how loyal Canelo is or isn’t, and you can debate how realistic Canelo is or isn’t.

“But did he do anything wrong by bringing to action to try and enforce his contract? No. People do that all the time. I don’t blame him for doing that.

“And maybe he also did it, and as a lawyer, this is something that jumped out at me, maybe he also did it, Canelo, by filing a lawsuit against DAZN and Golden Boy, Canelo’s lawyers opened the door to direct conversations between Canelo and DAZN.

“Those direct conversations may well be Oscar’s worst nightmare. And the reason why those conversations haven’t happened in total candor previously is because Golden Boy is the promoter.

Canelo Alvarez Oscar De La Hoya

“And the privity of contract, the contractual relationship is between Canelo and Golden Boy, and there’s a separate contractual relationship between Golden Boy and DAZN,” DiBella said.

Did Golden Boy attempt to get Canelo to agree to fight Golovkin when the contracts with DAZN were being negotiated? If Canelo chose to refuse to fight GGG, did DAZN know about that? Why would DAZN sign the superstar Canelo if they didn’t have a guarantee that he would fight Golovkin at least once?

DiBella thinks that Oscar De La Hoya may get in hot water if Canelo has direct conversations with DAZN, in which the two of them would learn about the contracts.

With the lack of famous fighters at 160 and 168, DAZN was bound to have problems with Canelo’s fights, not bringing in a massive amount of subscribers. There are guys that Canelo could fight that would bring in subscribers, but he likely would never fight them.

We’re talking about Artur Beterbiev, Dmitry Bivol, and Jermall Charlo. All great fighters, but would Canelo ever agree to fight them knowing that he would have a good chance of losing.

Golden Boy and De la Hoya could have a problem

“So it’s very, very likely now that discussions are going to be ongoing that go directly from Canelo to DAZN,” said DiBella. “And if those two sides agree that they were misled, and I’m not saying they were because I don’t have all the details.

“All I read, and it wasn’t a bad complaint. It was a complaint that was designed to get to court and to open up these discussions, and I get that. And when I look at the complaint, and it’s clear now that there are discussions that are going to be taking place between DAZN and Canelo’s lawyers and Canelo.

And if they agree that they were both misled, the real party here that they have to lose sleep over would be Oscar and Golden Boy.

“The idea that people are attacking DAZN for giving that list, first of all, I don’t know if they gave that list, but I understand that list,” said DiBella.

“What fights are going to move the needle? You know what? ‘If you can get Mayweather out of retirement, go ahead, and we’ll negotiate that with you.'”

As you can see, DiBella is wondering whether Golden Boy is the ones that messed up potentially by not including on Canelo’s contract they have with him that he was expected to fight Golovkin.

DAZN wants Canelo vs. Golovkin

“Look, DAZN didn’t make Oscar go public saying, ‘I’m coming out of retirement.’ Oscar did,” said DiBella. “So, you know what? What a great way to do this to Oscar [DiBella flips a bird at this point during the interview]. And say, ‘Hey Bro, you’re out of retirement, you’re around the same weight class, we’ll accept you. Go ahead.’

“Now does DAZN really think Oscar is going to jump in the ring with Canelo? Probably not, but they’re making a point. Everybody knows that Dana White and Oscar are not friends.

Canelo Alvarez Oscar De La Hoya

“Dana White is not doing any deal for one of his superstars of the UFC to bail Golden Boy out. That would never happen in a million years. I know Dana. That would never happen, but let me ask an honest question.

“If Masvidal was announced as an opponent for Canelo, would that do business? It would do a s*** load of business. It would be huge because it would attract an endless number of casuals, MMA fans and boxing fans would watch for the curiosity.

“Now, do I think that DAZN really believes that Golden Boy could deliver Jorge Masvidal or Khabib? But that’s not the point. Now they’re basically saying is, ‘Now I’ve given you a bunch of opponents. Okay, a**hole, deliver the GGG fight that you promised.’

“That’s what I think the message is. ‘Now find GGG now. Give me what I bargained for.‘ That’s what they’re doing, and I don’t blame them for that. If you’re sitting there and looking at the situation,” DiBella said.

That would be funny if DAZN expected Canelo to fight De La Hoya on their network. Oscar is 47-years-old, and he hasn’t fought in 12 years since 2008. For him to fight Canelo in his first fight back, it would be a disaster.

The fight might bring in a lot of subscribers, but the fans would be furious if it’s not entertaining.

Canelo Alvarez Oscar De La Hoya

Communication can occur

“Obviously, there’s a pandemic,” said DiBella. “It’s affecting every media company in the world. These are not easy times, but I could understand a company paying 35 to $40 million per fight, expecting to get a benefit of their bargain.

“And I could also expect a fighter, even if he’s a bit spoiled, even if he’s a multi-millionaire, even if he’s the biggest attraction in boxing.

“Any athlete that has a contract is going to want the benefit of his bargain, and that’s not outrageous no matter what you think of Canelo.

“So it makes perfect sense to me that this was filed, and it made more sense to me that it happened quickly because the only way to advance negotiations and discussions quickly was to allow direct conversations between Canelo and DAZN.

“The only way to do that is settlement discussions in litigation, and now Canelo has struck the first blow. Now I’m sure the door is open to communication,” said DiBella.

It’s good that communication can now occur between Canelo and DAZN. Whether that’ll help the situation between them to be resolved is unknown.


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