Although the coronavirus pandemic has affected his 2020 earnings, professional boxer Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez ranked in the top 30 of the 100 highest-paid athletes in the world as compiled by Forbes magazine.
The 29-year-old pugilist from Jalisco pulled in US $37 million over the last 12 months, $35 million in salary and $2 million more in sponsorships.
Canelo’s only fight during that period was against Russian Sergey Kovalez on November 2 of last year. He won that fight to become the light heavyweight champion of the world and a four-division champion, having won titles in three other weight classes.
This is the boxer’s fourth year in a row as the highest-paid Mexican athlete in the world.
But he could have climbed a bit higher on the list had the coronavirus not brought the boxing world to a halt. Canelo earned $75 million in 2019, his highest-paying year since beginning his boxing career in 2005.
He signed a $365-million, 11-fight contract in 2018 with online sports streaming service DAZN, a payday that comes out to just over $30 million per fight.
Despite such numbers, Canelo still has quite a way to go to reach the world’s top three. Although he hasn’t ranked No. 1 since 2018, Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer topped the Forbes list this year with a whopping $106.3 million in paychecks and sponsorships.
Soccer players Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi rounded out the top three with $105 million and $104 million, respectively.
Up against other boxers, Canelo comes in fourth after heavyweights Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder, all in the top 20 with earnings ranging from $46.5 million to $57 million.
As other popular fighting leagues like the WWE and UFC begin to organize closed-door events, the boxing world is hoping it can do the same, and there’s a possible Canelo fight in the works.
The tapatío (Jalisco native) was forced to postpone a fight scheduled for May 5, which he and promoter Golden Boy Promotions hope will take place in September, with or without an audience.
“We’re going to discuss it … with DAZN, with Canelo, with everyone involved … [and] if Canelo approves and is willing to do it and we can make it work for everyone involved, we’ll do it,” Golden Boy Promotions president Eric Gómez told BoxingScene magazine.
All that remains is to find Canelo an opponent. The most likely candidate is Englishman Billy Joe Saunders, who himself told BoxingScene that if they fight in an empty arena, it’ll be like competing on his home turf.
“He’s in my world. He packs stadiums. I fill half of Stevenage football ground. … Big fighters like that, … if he throws a shot and misses, the crowd can get behind him. That plays an effect with the judges and everybody watching the fight. But if it’s silent … you’ve got to focus on that fight even more,” said Saunders.
Meanwhile, Canelo hasn’t let his guard down for a second. Although he’s currently separated from his trainer Eddy Reynoso due to the pandemic, Canelo is continuing to work out at his training camp in San Diego, California.