It was a night designed for DAZN, the streaming service that is gambling close to a half-billion on professional boxing, to showcase its flagship fighter, and Canelo Alvarez did not disappoint.
In a fight that was more like a ritual slaughter, Alvarez, the Mexican-born and based middleweight champion who was making his New York debut, brutalized a game but dangerously outgunned Rocky Fielding, scoring a third-round TKO Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Fielding, from Liverpool, England, was down in every round, from left hooks to the body in the first and second round and from a left hook to the head and finally, yet another hook to the body in the third, prompting referee Ricky Gonzalez to call it off at 2:38 of the round.
The overwhelmingly pro-Canelo crowd, which greeted each pre-fight glimpse of him on the big screens above the ring with a deafening roar, shrieked its approval of the result. The event was sold out with 20,112 in attendance.
But whether Alvarez’ appeal will extend beyond the walls of Madison Square Garden remains to be seen. DAZN, which charges $10 a month for what it says will be approximately 70 fight cards per year, chose to hitch its fate to Alvarez over Anthony Joshua, the unbeaten English heavyweight who routinely packs 90,000 into soccer stadiums in the UK, for two simple but very good reasons: Canelo is a favorite of Hispanic fight fans, boxing’s largest and most loyal fan base, and he is a proven pay-per-view draw.
Whether he will provide financial return to justify his 11-fight, $365 million contract will not be determined until DAZN’s subscriber numbers are tabulated.
Certainly, Canelo kept up his part of the bargain in the ring.
Fighting for the first time at 168 pounds – the 6-1 Fielding has weighed as much as 179 for a fight – Alvarez quickly pinned his man to the ropes and went to work on the ribcage with his short, heavy punches. Despite holding a 5-ince reach advantage, Fielding was unable to establish any kind of distance between himself and Alvarez and was quickly drawn into a fight at close quarters, a fight he could not survive, let alone hope to win.
He dropped to knee from a left hook to the ribs midway through the first round and took an 8-count on a knee. He went down from the same punch late in the second but this time popped up at five. And when he went down for the fourth time in the closing seconds of the third round, he wore a sick little smile that told everyone in the Garden his night was through. Suffering only his second loss in 29 bouts, Fielding brought a ton of guts into the ring but little else.
Alvarez (51-1-2, 35 KOs), on the other hand, looked as destructive as he ever has in the ring, scoring his earliest KO since 2015.
It was hardly a surprising result. Canelo was a 16-1 favorite and his promoter, Oscar de la Hoya admitted this week that Canelo’s main challenge would come from the tape measure and the scale.
But neither of those were any factor in the brief, one-sided bout.
DAZN is hoping Canelo’s dominance and popularity will translate into a financial windfall for its streaming service. An introductory offer – new users could sign up to see Canelo-Fielding for free as a trial before committing to the monthly service – was in effect Saturday night, but simple arithmetic said that for DAZN to be able to pay its contract to Canelo, it would have to not only attract, but sustain, nearly a million paying subscribers a month for the next four years.
Source: Wallace Matthews