Oscar De La Hoya announced Tuesday that he has delivered Canelo Alvarez to HBO for a long-term deal that probably will include a bout in Texas in early December.
That’s a significant development in HBO’s struggle to remain dominant over its chief rival, Showtime. Alvarez is arguably the brightest young star in the sport, But it doesn’t necessarily torpedo the momentum of Showtime, or more specifically, Al Haymon, the “adviser” to many fighters who seems to be calling the shots on the Showtime side of the rivalry.
Tuesday’s announcement, in fact, made it clearer than ever that Haymon’s tactics were the reason for HBO’s split from Golden Boy Promotions in late winter 2013, although the 2014 defection of Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer from affiliation with De La Hoya to alliance with Haymon, made that clearer than did Tuesday’s announcement.
So when HBO’s sports chief Ken Hershman said he was pleased Tuesday to be “welcoming Canelo and his team back to HBO,” it wasn’t exactly the same team that ostensibly departed 19 months ago.
De La Hoya’s operation continues, in the wake of his split from Schaefer/Haymon, to look like it’s been picked apart by hyenas. But De La Hoya was trying not to burn bridges, despite reports that Showtime sports chief Stephen Espinoza considers the Canelo defection to be in violation of spoken contracts.
Meanwhile, De La Hoya and Top Rank chief Bob Arum, who is HBO’s No. 1 boxing asset, recently have been resurrecting their relationship circa the 1990s
De La Hoya, whose niche as a boxing star back then rather resembled where Alvarez now stands, did not characterize Tuesday’s announcement as signifying he and Golden Boy are through with Showtime. “I obviously hope this doesn’t ruin any type of relationship. I’m hoping it affects nothing.”
De La Hoya said Alvarez’s shift was a singular undertaking demanded by Alvarez himself, who wanted the greater reach and cache HBO has in Mexico, and also wanted to reclaim the May 5 (Cinco de Mayo) and Sept. 16 (Mexican Independence Day) fight-fan constituency from Floyd Mayweather, who has fought only on the dates surrounding those two Mexican landmark events in recent years.
“As his promoter,” De La Hoya said, “I have to do whatever I can to make that happen for him.”
**Colin Seymour’s recently published book “The Kingpin Trio” (as reported on yeahstub.com) ends with a discussion of the Al Haymon/Showtime effect on the future of boxing. Visit: