DAZN decision leads to long delay at title fight

The Associated PressCanelo Alvarez, right, lands a punch against Sergey Kovalev during a light heavyweight WBO title bout Saturday in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS — At one point Saturday, it felt like there was no chance Canelo Alvarez would be able to make history by defeating Sergey Kovalev at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

And it had nothing to do with the fighters themselves.

DAZN, which televised the fight, made the decision they weren’t going to start the main event until the UFC 244 main event between Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal ended, so as not to compete for viewers. So, there was a lengthy delay planned.

To complicate matters, the co-feature between Ryan Garcia and Romero Duno lasted just one round.

So the fighters and 14,490 fans waited. And waited, and waited.

Alvarez and Kovalev were shown in the locker room relaxing on couches, nearly falling asleep. It got so bad they actually showed the UFC fight in the arena while waiting for the main event to start.

All told, the delay between the two fights lasted 1 hour, 45 minutes.

Officials at DAZN told a pool of reporters there was a giant surge of both subscription purchases and views of the fight, but failed to provide any statistical data proving these points.

Alvarez seemed unaffected by the delay, eventually winning by 11th-round knockout.

“It happens,” he said. “This is another step in my history. Be patient.”

•••

To put it mildly, Larry Merchant is boxing royalty.

At 88 years old, the former boxing scribe and announcer has been a mainstay at fights since 1957. He was once again in attendance Saturday, holding court with any and all reporters.

Merchant told a story about interviewing Muhammad Ali before his historic championship fight with George Forman in 1974.

“Ali told me, ‘If he (Foreman) doesn’t get me in seven (rounds), his parachute won’t open.’"

Ali was, as usual, correct. He stopped Foreman in the eighth round to recapture the heavyweight championship.

•••

Blair “The Flair” Cobbs, who opened the main card with seventh round TKO of Carlos Ortiz, is an unabashed professional wrestling fan, as evidenced by his nickname.

Cobbs entered the weigh-in to “Sexy Boy,” the Shawn Michaels theme. He entered the fight to “The Game,” which is the theme of HHH.

Much like a professional wrestler, Cobbs isn’t shy about his abilities.

“I believe I’m the most exciting guy in boxing,” he said.

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