Canelo Álvarez is a big dude, but for most of his career, he’s been portrayed as the hungry up-and-comer taking on the most revered names in professional boxing. Now it seems the David and Goliath narrative has flipped on the Jalisco native, as a Miami boxing promoter has won a stunning $8.5 million dollar lawsuit against both Álvarez and Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, which represents him.
The origin of the multi-million dollar payday is a four-year contract Álvarez signed back in 2008 with Cuban-Puerto Rican promoter Félix “Tutico” Zabala Jr. and his company All-Star Boxing. After Álvarez had clocked in one year and nine professional fights with All-Star, de la Hoya apparently smelled a champion and offered Canelo a new contract, muscling out Zabala by essentially pretending he didn’t exist.
The wheels of Zabala’s lawsuit were first put in motion in 2011, but the bureaucratic morass that drew the process out over several years only made the payday more lucrative as Canelo’s net worth skyrocketed. Once the jury selection weeded out any self-professed fanatics of Canelo and de la Hoya, the trial kicked off in Miami in late May and concluded with a decision that nearly doubled the $5 million settlement Zabala had originally offered Golden Boy.
In the suit, Zabala claimed his company had effectively launched Álvarez’s career before he was poached by Golden Boy, and crafted the image he maintains to this day. While the second-generation promoter has been criticized for exploiting Álvarez’s fame, Zabala claims his lawsuit was about “respect” and “dignity” in a profession known for shady business practices. For their part, Golden Boy is dumbfounded by the decision and has vowed to appeal straightaway.
Whatever the final outcome, it seems Canelo has weathered his final rite of passage on the path to global superstardom.