CANELO ALVAREZ’S next fight looks destined to take place in a courtroom rather than a boxing ring. DAZN, a new sports streaming service, made Canelo the most highly paid athlete in the sport when he signed a $360 million dollar 11-fight deal in 2018. But three fights into that agreement, the arrangement has soured. They have not been able to come to terms for Alvarez’s next fight and the Mexican star is now suing DAZN and his promoter Golden Boy for breach of contract among other things.

There are points of acrimony. DAZN also has a broadcast deal with Canelo’s great rival Gennady Golovkin but has not been able to put together a third fight between the two. (Their first two fights were televised on HBO.) The sport is making a troubled return, currently without crowds and therefore with no gate money, in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic. There has been speculation that DAZN wanted to reduce Canelo’s guaranteed payment.

Still Canelo’s relationship with DAZN has seen him unify middleweight titles against Danny Jacobs and leap up two divisions to beat a leading light-heavyweight world champion in Sergey Kovalev. Those were two big fights even if boxing Rocky Fielding in Alvarez’s first appearance on DAZN was a low key outing for Canelo. There have been talks for him to fight super-middleweight champions Callum Smith or Billy Joe Saunders next but these have stalled, leaving Canelo with no fight presently lined up in 2020.

In a statement to Boxing Scene Alvarez said: “I’m the pound-for-pound number one in the world. I’m not scared of any opponent in the ring, and I’m not going to let failures of my broadcaster or promoters keep me out of the ring.

“I filed the lawsuit so I can get back to boxing and give my fans the show they deserve.”

The courts will have to decide the merits of the case but he is right that he needs to fight. Inactivity is highly detrimental to a boxer’s career. Even two fights a year, Canelo’s usual recent schedule, probably isn’t enough and in 2020 it doesn’t look likely that he’ll get in one.

Boxing must also find a way to get its biggest names into action. The sport will fade from public consciousness if its star names can’t take part in high profile events. Without spectators that is a challenge but it has to be addressed. Otherwise the future is uncertain. The Canelo dispute is another ominous sign.

Panel – What should Canelo Alvarez’s next move be?

Matthew Hatton
Previous Canelo foe
I’d love to see him fighting either Billy Joe Saunders or Callum Smith. Both would be absolutely excellent fights. Golovkin wouldn’t be top of my list. Inactivity is detrimental to any fighter. Even though it might cost him a few quid short term, he’s not short of a few quid and for his boxing he should definitely stay active and maybe do it behind closed doors or maybe with a reduced crowd.

Ryan Rhodes
Former European champ
Canelo needs to fight Billy Joe Saunders or Callum Smith in a world title unification fight. If that doesn’t happen, Saunders vs Smith should happen 100%.

Declan Taylor
Boxing reporter
Although it looked like the lustre of a trilogy fight with GGG had gone, it now seems like a good option. Also, after two close fights he would surely fancy a more convincing win if he fought the 38-year-old now. Either that or wait for Oscar De La Hoya to come out of retirement then fight him. That would be one way to settle their differences.

Andy Clarke
A third fight with Golovkin. Whether Canelo likes it or not the first two fights have been inconclusive in most people’s eyes and allied to that it’s the best and most lucrative match out there for him.