EXCLUSIVE: Lou DiBella talks Canelo UFC delay, predicts next opponent
Promoter Lou DiBella recently spoke to WBN about a wide-ranging number of topics in the sport. One of those covered was the delay to Canelo vs Sergey Kovalev due to the simultaneous UFC Pay-Per-View.
Canelo vs Kovalev was halted by exclusive broadcasters at DAZN due to a clash with the Jorge Masvidal vs Nate Diaz bout at UFC 244.
Fans had already questioned the decision for Canelo vs Kovalev to be confirmed for the same date before a late announcement was made during fight week.
DAZN stated they would not go head-to-head with the UFC main event in order to maximize subscribers.
What transpired was over a 90-minute wait between the Ryan Garcia co-feature and Canelo challenging for a fourth-weight world title.
Some have branded the move ’embarrassing’, whilst others understand the reasoning in order to keep those who like both sports happy.
Since the furor died down, there have been conflicting reports as to whether DAZN’s ploy actually worked.
WBN has been informed as much as an extra 15% boost in paid subscriptions was the result. No official numbers have been released on the matter.
For DiBella, whose fighters have competed in both DAZN and PPV networks, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
“I understand the motivation behind it,” DiBella exclusively told World Boxing News. “But I just think if they would have known how everything would have broken in terms of the time then I don’t know if it would have been done the same way.
“I do understand when there are two main events of this magnitude why they would want to try and not have them overlap, but for 75% of the people in the United States, it was extremely late.
“Only the DAZN people know if it worked out for their subscribers. If it helped them make new subscribers then they did the right thing, they’re the only people who know that.
“I don’t think people want to wait in an ideal situation to see the main event. But from my interest, I was watching the UFC at Madison Square Garden. I then jumped into a car service when it was over. Eventually, I got to watch the entire Canelo fight on DAZN, so I was happy.”
Due to the ever-increasing popularity of UFC, more nights like this can be expected. As UFC boss Dana White explained in the aftermath of UFC 244, he was forced to bow to demands made by Golden Boy, despite a tempestuous relationship.
“So we were sitting there and MGM called. They said that, ‘you guys are halfway through your co-main event right now, people are losing their minds here,’ or whatever. ‘Can we show the Diaz fight at the MGM?
“And I was just like, ‘Holy sh-t! This is crazy! This is getting crazier by the minute!’
“I woke up and dreamed all this, that it could happen. It was nuts. Of course, we said yes. They did and wow.”
Speaking at the post-fight press conference, White added that he wanted Golden Boy boss Oscar De La Hoya to pick a different date from the off.
“They’re not showing my main event at their cards because somebody won and lost, it’s a much bigger picture than that,” he pointed out.
“You guys know how I am, I f***ing hate Oscar De La Hoya. He’s a scumbag, a snake. I told him not to go on this night. He did what he wanted to do and here we are.
“I respect Canelo and all the other fighters and guys who participate in the sport of boxing. But we got it worked out to where fans could see the other fights.”
Stopping Kovalev in eleven rounds, Canelo claimed the WBO light heavyweight title and legendary status into the bargain.
Asked whether Canelo can now compete with the other champions at 175 pounds, DiBella gave his thoughts.
“I don’t think he looked that small for the weight. Traditionally he’s been a pretty good-sized middleweight on the night of his fights at middleweight. I don’t think there was an issue,” he told WBN.
“I think he was the stronger fighter interestingly. He was backing Kovalev up most of the fight.
“I thought Canelo set the pace of the fight. Even though it may have been close on some scorecards, it was clear Canelo was taking the fight over.
“I always believed Canelo was likely to score a late-round KO. So I wasn’t particularly surprised.”
On where Canelo now stands in the pound for pound rankings, DiBella agreed with WBN’s position at the summit.
“He’s my No.1 pound-for-pound fighter right now,” he said before being asked if Lomachenko had claims to be above the Mexican superstar.
“Look, Lomachenko’s a great fighter, Canelo’s a great fighter. There are other great fighters, but I think certainly Canelo has a very good claim right now at holding champions at 160, 168 and 175.
“Kovalev was a legitimate light heavyweight champion. Canelo knocked him out. I give props to Canelo Alvarez he’s a great fighter.”
CANELO vs GGG TRILOGY
Already linked to facing the likes of Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders, Canelo looks set to return in May, back in Las Vegas.
An old adversary could be in the opposite corner, according to DiBella guesstimation.
“I don’t know (who they will pick), but I’m sure DAZN is hoping GGG.
“If I had to make a guess, I’m going to go out on a limb. I’ll guess that Canelo will fight GGG at 168-lbs in May,” concluded the DiBella Entertainment boss.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay