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Canelo exits US$365m DAZN contract

What was once the largest contract ever signed by a professional athlete, now longer exists as Boxing star Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez severs ties with Golden Boy Promotions, which includes US$365 million deal with streaming service DAZN.

The four-division world champion, Canelo Alvarez has parted ways with Golden Boy Promotions, which has represented him since 2010. As part of the separation his record deal with streaming service DAZN is no longer active.

The news comes just two months after Alvarez filed a lawsuit in federal court against both Golden Boy Promotions and DAZN. The lawsuit, which also named Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya, stemmed from disagreements about whom the middleweight champion should fight next and included claims of fraud, breach of contract, breach of good faith and interference with prospective economic relations.

The lawsuit disclosed discrepancies between the fighter’s deal with Golden Boy and Golden Boy’s deal with DAZN (which included the US$365 million for 11 Canelo fights signed in 2018), which were irreconcilable, according to sources.

In his lawsuit, Alvarez was seeking at least US$280 million in damages and the right to schedule fights without input from DAZN or Golden Boy. The details of the separation agreement between the entities are not clear.

“The lawsuit was resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, and we wish Canelo the best going forward,” De la Hoya said in a statement. “In strong partnership with DAZN, we will continue showcasing our wide array of talent, including rising superstars like Ryan Garcia, Jaime Munguia and Vergil Ortiz Jr., all of whom have the talent and potential to become the next biggest star in our sport.” A DAZN spokesman declined to comment.

Despite only being filed two months ago, the litigation has been heard in both federal and state courts. The case remains on the federal docket, thought the settlement will lead to its voluntarily dismissal by the parties.

These settlements typically contain a non-disparage/ non-disclosure clause. The clause contractually prohibits the parties from sharing information about the terms of the settlement. A violation of a settlement agreement can spark a breach of contract lawsuit. In short, the dispute is over but could be resurrected.

The settlement is also a global agreement in that is resolves a dispute that involved multiple partners – Alvarez, DAZN, Golden Boy and De La Hoya. A settlement between Alvarez and DAZN, but not with Golden Boy, would have left open the possibility of protracted and expensive legal process.

By settling, both parties also destroy the possibility of their competitors and media learning about the details of their business operations and contracts. The lawsuit could have led to pretrial discovery, where Alvarex, De La Hoya, DAZN executives and others would have been required to testify under oath and share sensitive emails, texts and other correspondences. Much of that information could have become public through court filings. All of the parties likely places a premium on confidentiality.

The fight between the boxer and his reps and media partner sheds light onto how the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted boxing, which was much slower than other sports to get back to holding events. It also highlighted tensions that often exist among different stakeholders when trying to schedule bouts.

Canelo’s signing was a major step for DAZN, which prior to 2018 was streaming in just a handful of specific international markets. The company was seeking a way into a saturated U.S. sports media landscape and, with all the major leagues locked into long-term deals, chose to focus primarily on boxing, where deep pockets could immediately access the sport’s biggest stars.

DAZN recently announced plans to launch globally through its boxing rights, and while losing one of boxing’s biggest stars isn’t ideal, it likely frees up hundreds of millions that the company can allocate elsewhere. Canelo fought just three of the 11 bouts under the contract.

Alvarez, 30, is 53-1-2 as a professional. His lone loss was in 2013 to Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Author: Kai McKechnie