Hershman, De La Hoya excited about Canelo Alvarez’s future on HBO
LOS ANGELES – Canelo Alvarez, Oscar De La Hoya and HBO Sports president Ken Hershman all wore giddy smiles during a press conference announcing the former junior middleweight champ’s return to HBO on Tuesday at the Golden Boy Promotions headquarters.
They were reunited and it felt so good, to paraphrase classic R&B duo Peaches & Herb.
“This is an exciting moment for me,” said Hershman, who told the assembled media that he couldn’t wait to get off the plane from New York City to make the announcement at the L.A.-based promotional company.
“There are a few moments in my line of work when you know you’re involved with a superstar. We’ve known that Canelo was from his very first appearance on HBO, and we’ve never lost sight of how powerful an athlete and personality he is in and outside of the ring.”
De La Hoya, the president of Golden Boy Promotions, was every bit as energized as Hershman.
“This is exciting for me, personally, because I grew up on HBO,” said De La Hoya, who would not divulge the terms of the new agreement other than it’s a long-term deal.
HBO introduced Alvarez (44-1-1, 31 knockouts) to a broad American audience four and a half years ago.
Alvarez fought Jose Cotto on the HBO Pay Per View-televised undercard of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Shane Mosley fight in May 2010, when he was only 19 years old. He knocked out former welterweight champ Carlos Baldomir on the HBO Pay Per View undercard of the Mosley-Sergio Mora fight in September 2010, and then fought four consecutive bouts on HBO or HBO PPV in 2011 – his WBC 154-pound belt winning decision over Matthew Hatton, and title defenses against Ryan Rhodes, Alfonso Gomez and Kermit Cintron.
Alvarez’s decision victory over Mosley in the co-feature to the Mayweather-Miguel Cotto pay-per-view event in May 2012 was the Mexican star’s last appearance on HBO. Alvarez’s last five bouts have been on Showtime or Showtime Pay Per View, including his lone loss to Mayweather last September, which was the highest-grossing pay-per-view event in history.
HBO, which served ties with Golden Boy Promotions early last year while the company was still headed up by former CEO Richard Schaefer, is hopeful that Alvarez will set some new pay-per-view records on their network and they believe that a showdown with Puerto Rican star Miguel Cotto will help him achieve that goal.
Boxing’s “Cold War,” the division between Golden Boy Promotions and rival company Top Rank, which currently promotes Cotto, once made talk of a Cotto-Alvarez matchup almost as moot as Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao. However, there’s been some thaw in that standoff with Schaefer’s departure from Golden Boy Promotions in June, Bernard Hopkins returning to HBO to face Sergey Kovalev on Nov. 8, and now the Alvarez announcement.
“Recent happenings have definitely accelerated the pace of reuniting,” Hershman said. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s about making the right investments in the right partnerships that bear fruit for everybody.”
Hershman says Alvarez, who has shown a fearless streak by taking on formidable junior middleweight standouts, such as Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara, is that kind of investment.
“Canelo Alvarez,” Hershman called to the fighter before leaving the podium, “Are you ready?”
“I was born ready,” Alvarez said in English.
“I’m happy to be back with HBO where I won my first title,” Alvarez said in Spanish translated by Golden Boy Promotions vice president Eric Gomez. “I want to make history. I feel that – hand in hand with HBO – this can happen.”
The first step in what HBO and Golden Boy Promotions call Alvarez’s “new chapter” isn’t yet set. Fans know that Alvarez is scheduled to return to the ring on Dec. 6, but an opponent and a venue has yet to be decided.
It was rumored that Alvarez would face former welterweight beltholder Joshua Clottey, but that rumor was squashed during the press conference. Shortly after the presser, news broke that James Kirkland pulled out of his fight with Gabriel Rosado, which was supposed to be the key support to the Hopkins-Kovalev fight. That move has led to speculation that Kirkland is in the running to face Alvarez.
Alvarez-Kirkland would certainly be a hot ticket in Texas, where Kirkland is from and where Alvarez attracted 40,000 fans (to the Trout fight in San Antonio), and a highly rated broadcast for HBO given the name recognition and action styles of both junior middleweights.
Beyond December, Alvarez said that he wants to fight two-to-three times a year, but definitely do pay-per-view shows on the first weekend in May (Cinco De Mayo weekend) and on the Saturday of Mexican Independence Day weekend, two traditional pay-per-view dates that have been adopted by Mayweather in recent years.
“I don’t care who fights on those dates,” Alvarez said when he was asked if he was worried about going head-to-head with Mayweather events, “I want them. They’re big dates for Mexico.”
Mayweather will be hard-pressed to find opponents for his last two Showtime dates that can make for events that equal a Cotto-Alvarez showdown.
Alvarez says there are other big names available to him now that he’s back with HBO.
“I’m willing to fight anybody,” he said. “The Cotto fight isn’t a done deal yet, and there are others who fight on HBO that fans want to see, Gennady Golovkin, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. The fight with Chavez is a good fight to make in Mexico or anywhere else.”
RingTV.com asked De La Hoya to comment on his company’s relationship with Showtime, given that many fighters in his stable are managed by Al Haymon who clearly has close ties to Showtime. Does Alvarez’s move to HBO put a strain on Golden Boy Promotions’ current relationship with Showtime?
“I would hope not,” De La Hoya said. “We’re a boxing promoter. We have fighters who have been fighting on Showtime, like [WBC junior featherweight beltholder] Leo Santa Cruz.
“This decision was made by everyone but especially the fighter, Canelo. We listened to what the fighter wanted, so I would hope it doesn’t hurt or change the relationship [with Showtime].”
However, De La Hoya’s following comment probably won’t make the folks at Showtime feel any better.
“Wherever the superstar in boxing is, fighters want to follow,” De La Hoya said. “So it will be interesting to see what my fighters ask of me in the coming years.”
De La Hoya believes the coming years will be good ones for Alvarez.
“It’s mind boggling that he’s only 24,” he said. “He’s already fought Mayweather, Trout, Lara, all these difficult boxers. He’s ahead of the game.
“He’s ahead of where Mayweather and Pacquiao were when they were 24, and the best is yet to come.”
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer