When boxing superstar Canelo Alvarez returns to the ring this year, he could be making less money.
Alvarez, the middleweight champion and super middleweight titlist, has said he wants to return on Mexican Independence weekend in September, but he doesn't have an opponent yet and venues are still trying to reopen following state's restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Boxing is now back up and running but is doing so without live audiences. That means no door money.
"He hasn't agreed to anything," Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy Promotions, who promotes Canelo, told ESPN. "But obviously because there's not going to be a gate, automatically, he's going to make less. He gets part of the gate, the sponsors are not around, also. A lot of the sponsors don't want to do anything right now.
"So if he fights, because there's no gate -- he's going to make less. That's if he fights, if he decides to fight. But he hasn't decided, yet," Gomez said.
For many fighters, ticket sales and gate receipts are irrelevant because they aren't box-office attractions. But for Alvarez it's a key part of his revenue stream. His first bout with Gennadiy Golovkin in Las Vegas generated over $27 million at the gate. The rematch a year later did $24 million at the gate. These two fights are Nos. 3 and 4, respectively, in all-time gate receipts in Nevada. His fight last year against Danny Jacobs procured $8.6 million in ticket revenue.
Without the ability to sell tickets there will be less money in the pot. What's not clear is if DAZN, Alvarez's broadcast partner, will ask Canelo (53-1-2, 36 KOs) for a reduced price for his next fight. In 2018, Canelo signed an exclusive five-year deal with DAZN that was reportedly for 11 fights and $365 million. Canelo is one of the key assets for DAZN, which generates revenue off a subscription base.
"They obviously would love for him to fight, everything's been positive," Gomez said of the discussions with DAZN. "Automatically with no gate, he would take less."
So, if Canelo fights, who will be his opponent?
In a recent interview with Sky Sports, Gomez said WBA super middleweight titlist Callum Smith and super middleweight contender John Ryder are under consideration.
"We are not closing the door on anybody," Gomez said. "Canelo's always available to fight the best, he always wants to fight the best. The problem right now is fighters have to be reasonable -- everyone has to be reasonable. So the first guy to step up and is reasonable, and understands we're in a pandemic, that's probably the guy who's going to get the fight.
"Because it's not like [where] we were a year ago when everything was normal and fine, and everything was business as usual. It's not business as usual, right now. We're in a pandemic."
Gomez also said that middleweights Jason Quigley and Tureano Johnson would be in consideration. They are both promoted by Golden Boy.
"We're not going to close the door, we're not going to handicap ourselves, especially right now during the pandemic. You need all the help you can get," said Gomez, adding that choosing a foe for Alvarez is every much a budgetary issue, as it is about making the most appealing fight.
So, do the potential opponents understand the current economics involved?
"Some do, and then there's other fighters who need to wake up and don't understand it's a different world we're living in now," Gomez said.
As for when a deal has to be made, there really isn't the sense of urgency given the current climate.
"It's a little different, right now, because you want to get out ahead when you're selling tickets -- which there's not going to be any tickets to sell, there's not going to be a gate -- so that helps," Gomez said. "We can announce [the next fight] even a month out. It's the same with pay-per-view, you're doing a pay-per-view, you want to start early. The earlier you start the better to market and promote the event.
"So this is a little different, but we'll see. We have a few plans in place for him, and we're discussing everything."
There's a chance that Alvarez's next bout could be in a smaller, more intimate setting.
"We've had those talks, that's on the table, as well," Gomez said. "You don't have the urgency to be in a special venue, it can be in a ballroom, it can be in a studio. It can be anywhere, which is a little bit of a luxury for us."
With Alvarez already having missed one date this year in May, there's also the possibility of him having a quick turnaround and boxing again in December.
"We've talked about it, there's different scenarios," Gomez said. "But everything right now is just ideas and we're talking, at the end of the day, he'll decide what he wants."