Canelo Alvarez returns to the ring Saturday night to face undefeated middleweight Billy Joe Saunders. It marks Alvarez’s third—and most lucrative—fight since divorcing from Golden Boy Promotions in the fall, which terminated his record $365 million contract with streaming service DAZN. The Mexican pugilist is expected to earn roughly $25 million from the Saunders fight, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.
The $25 million payday tops what Alvarez earned against Callum Smith in December and Avni Yildirim in February—the Yildirim fight netted Alvarez “only” $10 million. But fans and ticket revenue are back in a big way for this event at the Dallas Cowboys’ home, AT&T Stadium, boosting his cut. Promotor Eddie Hearn, who runs Matchroom Boxing, says he expects 70,000 fans at the fight, adding that it is sold out.
Saturday will be the largest gathering of sports fans in North America since the pandemic was declared a national emergency in March 2020, passing Sunday’s Kentucky Derby crowd of roughly 52,000. Alvarez previously defeated Liam Smith at AT&T Stadium in September 2016.
DAZN will air the fight worldwide Saturday, except in Mexico and Latin America, where it is distributed by TV Azteca. Alvarez controls those broadcast rights, which will add to his $25 million DAZN haul.
DAZN stunned the sports world in October 2018 when it announced its 11-fight deal with Alvarez worth at least $365 million. His first fight on the streaming service, a third-round knockout of Rocky Fielding, was worth $15 million, and the minimum payday for the rest of his bouts were expected to be $35 million with potentially more for blockbuster events, like a third fight with Gennady Golovkin, which never materialized.
But the pandemic crisis struck three fights into the contract, and the relationship deteriorated between Alvarez and his promotor Golden Boy, which had represented the 30-year-old since 2010. Alvarez sued DAZN, Golden Boy and Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya in federal court in September. The complaint alleged fraud, breach of contract and interference with prospective economic conditions. Alvarez was seeking at least $280 million in damages.
The settlement in November cut Golden Boy out of the picture and allowed Alvarez to return to DAZN at a lower fee. Alvarez worked with promotor Matchroom Boxing for the Smith fight. Matchroom, which is home to Anthony Joshua and Saunders, has its own eight-year, $1 billion deal with DAZN that it signed in 2018. The Alvarez-Matchroom pairing was a success, and the parties reached a two-fight deal in January.
DAZN is releasing its first NFTs in connection with this fight. The sports streamer is auctioning one “gold edition” NFT for each round; the owner of the NFT corresponding to the round when the bout ends wins an experience at a future Canelo event.
Alvarez has a career record of 55-1-2, with his sole loss a 2013 majority decision against Floyd Mayweather. He has earned more than $300 million during his boxing career.