San Diego, Calif., December 14, 2018 – In the shifting landscape of boxing and boxing media, 28-year-old Mexican superstar and current WBC, WBA, and lineal middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez signed a ten-fight deal with the DAZN streaming sports platform for $325 million, making it the single richest deal in professional sports history. That’s for all sports, not just boxing.
But it seemed nearly certain those bouts wouldn’t kick off until 2019. After an entertaining close fight at the highest levels of boxing in September against Gennady Golovkin, Ringside Seat wrote off any chance of another fight for Alvarez due to a fairly serious cut over his left eye.
Fortunately for the fans, Alvarez proved everyone wrong. After announcing his eye popping deal with DAZN, Golden Boy Boxing revealed the biggest box office star in the sport would return on Saturday, December 15 to face WBA super middleweight champion Rocky Fielding of Liverpool, England, in a 12-round title fight at Madison Square Garden.
It was unexpected in large part due to Alvarez (50-=1-2, 34 KOs) taking a fight in the next highest weight division, but past the initial surprise, it’s a fight tailor made for Alvarez. He doesn’t risk his current titles, and he doesn’t have to struggle to make weight. Fielding (27-1, 15 KOs) hasn’t faced an opponent anywhere close to the caliber of Alvarez. He doesn’t have threatening power. But he’s game and he was willing to meet Alvarez in New York for a little holiday boxing bon bon.
First fight for Alvarez under new DAZN contract
The fight will be streamed live on DAZN, including a series of solid undercard fights. Fans new to the DAZN platform get their first month free, so it’s hardly a risk. Normal DAZN subscription pricing is $9.99/month.
Call it a victory lap for Alvarez, reminding fans of his status after his controversial defeat of Golovkin in September. At this week’s final news conference, Alvarez said, “It’s just yet another story, another dream realized in my career and this new phase of my career with DAZN. I’m very happy and I’m motivated.”
Giving a nod to his opponent, Alvarez said, “Perhaps many don’t give the credit to Rocky Fielding that he deserves but for a reason, he’s a world champion. I know who he is, I’ve trained very hard, I know the challenge I have in front of me. I know that I have a tough fight but I like challenges and I know we’re going to make history. I’m ready for that.”
Fielding was in Madison Square Garden one year ago, but not for a fight. “I was here years ago, sitting right at the top over there, watching a Knicks game, wishing one day to fight here. Now I’ve put a lot of work in, I’ve had a lot of setbacks, and here we are. It’s unbelievable. I’m looking forward to it I believe in myself. I come here as a champion, and that’s what champions do – they win, and they defend,” said Fielding.
Underdog Fielding has nothing to lose
The British fighters, little known outside the UK, has nothing to lose. He took his championship fight on short notice, and his boldness paid off. It’s that attitude he most has going for him as he steps into ring. A man with nothing to lose can be among the most dangerous in boxing.
Still, it’s hard to find a single expert in boxing who picks Fielding to win, and few think he’ll end the fight on his feet. A win would put Fielding in the same category as Buster Douglas. Alvarez doesn’t have to risk much. He is naturally a patient fighter in the first few rounds. He’s likely to work his excellent jab, close in slowly on the taller Fielding, take it to the body as Fielding tries to avoid the jab, and by the middle rounds it should be Christmas lights out.
Lemieux out of co-main due to dehydration; Farmer steps up
The understand should provide solid entertainment, despite the co-main event beinig scratched just 30 minutes before the weigh-in. Canadian middleweight David Lemieux (40-4, 34 KOs) was scheduled to take on Tureano Johnson, a native of the Bahamas (20-2, 14 KOs), with the winner sure to face Alvarez in his next middleweight fight.
Lemieux, who has struggled to make the middleweight limit in the last few years, was hospitalized due to dehydration. Promoter Camille Estephan told Behind the Gloves Lemieus was only a half-pound over on Thursday night, and was expected to make the weight, but this morning it became apparent he would not get there. So much for the “Canelo sweepstakes.” Johnson, who has been missed fights due to several nagging injuries, must wonder if he’s a curse.
IBF super featherweight champion Tevin Farmer of Philadelphia (27-4-1, 6 KOs) and Francisco Fonseca of Costa Rica (22-1-1, 16 KOs) will step up into the co-main event role as a result. Farmer is enjoying a second wind in his career. Fonseca’s only loss came to Gervontaa Davis. It’s a golden opportunity for Farmer, who likely never imagined he’d get this shot with four losses on his record.
Ali vs Herrera, Katie Taylor, Ryan Garcia round out undercard
Other familiar names pack the undercard. Former WBO junior middleweight champion Sadam “World Kid” Ali (26-2, 14 KOs) goes up against veteran Mexican-American favorite Mauricio Herrera (24-7, 7 KOs), who may have been robbed in more decisions than any other fighter out there. Brooklyn native Ali is fighting at home. “It doesn’t get to happen often, but when it does, I’m excited and I’m ready.” Herrera says it’s a great opportunity and says the pair will put on a fight to remember.
One of the world’s pound for pound fighters, Olympic and WBA/IBF lightweight champion Katie Taylor of Ireland, is sure to have many fans in the seats in New York. Taylor (11-0, 5 KOs) puts her undefeated record and titles on the line against Eva Wahlstrom (22-0-1, 3 KOs) of Finland. Taylor is the first Irish boxer to defend a world title in New York. Wahlstrom, a former title holder, is facing an opponent who is simply on another plain, and offers no danger to Taylor. We need to ask: why wasn’t this bout moved up as the co-main event? Come on, Oscar, and Eddie!
Golden Boy Boxing’s most well-known prospect, Ryan Garcia of Victorville, California (16-0, 13 KOs), gets some ring time under the big lights and says he’s eager to show fans what he’s been improving on while working with his new trainers, the Reynosos, at Alvarez’s training camp in San Diego. He fights Braulio Rodriguez of the Dominican Republic (19-3, 17 KOs), who is coming off a loss to Christopher Diaz for a minor title in March. Garcia and Rodriguez squabbled at the weigh-in. Garcia has a little chip on his shoulder given his less than thrilling wins recently. Here’s hoping he returns to knockout form.
WBO international super featherweight champion Lamont Roach Jr. of Washington DC (17-0-1, 7 KOs) fights in the opening bout against Alberto Mercado of Puerto Rico (15-1-1, 3 KOs), who also defeated Rodriguez in 2016.
Super lightweight prospect Vergil Ortiz Jr. of Dallas, Texas is making a name for himself among serious fight observers. Regrettably he ended up being scratched from the card by the New York State Athletic Commission. The undefeated prospect with a perfect knockout ratio (11-0, 11 KOs) was denied a license due to having Lasik eye surgery performed in October. In New York, this procedure is a medical disqualification. Why didn’t someone realize this in advance? Ortiz will pass up his MSG debut.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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