Cinco de Mayo is often the biggest fight weekend of the year, and this year will feature boxing’s biggest pay-per-view star in Saul “Canelo” Álvarez, who’s facing off against Britain’s John Ryder Saturday night. But instead of a ring in Las Vegas or an NFL stadium, Alvarez will fight in his hometown of Guadalajara—his first bout in Mexico in 12 years in what is billed as “The Return of the King.”
“He turned down over $10 million more to fight in other countries to take this fight in Mexico,” Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Sport president and Canelo’s promoter, said in a Zoom interview. “Every time I went back to him with a new number, which was even more money, he said, ‘No, it has to be Guadalajara.’”
Alvarez has a guarantee of roughly $15 million for the bout and will share in the PPV revenue, which Hearn figures will bump Alvarez’s take from the fight to around $20 million, but still well short of his usual $30 million to $35 million check. Hearn expects around 400,000 buys for the PPV.
“It’s obviously a smaller Canelo Alvarez fight, but it is Cinco de Mayo, and it is a spectacle fans are about to see,” Hearn said wearing his promotor hat. “It’s a very historic moment for this country, and it will be at a standstill here. Canelo Alvarez never disappoints at the box office.”
Alvarez is a 16/1 favorite, according to the Caesars Sportsbook.
The fighter has made an estimated $460 million during his career from purses and endorsements—$525 million adjusted for inflation which ranks him No. 48 all time. There are expected to be 55,000 fans at Estadio Akron, where Liga MX club Chivas plays, but the gate and PPV buys will be lower than if the fight was in Vegas, where Alvarez has fought 16 times. The lower revenue means a smaller paycheck.
Alvarez has been a boxing free agent since he parted ways with Golden Boy Promotions in 2020 and cut short his historic 11-fight, $365 million agreement with DAZN. He has mostly worked with Matchroom on one-off or multi-fight agreements since the Golden Boy split, and he has had multiple fights on DAZN, including Saturday night.
Hearn says the plan for Alvarez after Saturday is a rematch against Dmitry Bivol in September. A year ago this Sunday, Bivol shocked Alvarez with a unanimous decision victory, only the second loss of his career after a 2013 defeat at the hands of Floyd Mayweather.
This week, UK-based Matchroom announced a three-year extension to their broadcast deal with DAZN in the U.S. and Mexico with the continued goal of creating a global promotion company. They have put on more than 50 events since they first partnered in 2018. “The signing of Canelo Alvarez was a game-changer for us,” Hearn said, enabling Matchroom to get a foothold with the Hispanic fanbase. The promoter says he expects Matchroom to put on six events a year in Mexico, in addition to the U.S. cards.
“Boxing is a very unreliable business at times for broadcasters and particularly for fans, but it is one of the most exciting,” Hearn said. “Boxing doesn’t always work, but when you get it right, it definitely works.”