Canelo Alvarez vs Callum Smith live stream: Free links spread online despite police piracy warnings

Illicit streaming sites shared on Facebook, Reddit and Twitter in build-up to fight as fans look for ways to watch for free

Anthony Cuthbertson
Saturday 19 December 2020 21:35 GMT
Canelo Alvarez takes on Britain’s Callum Smith in a super middleweight title fight
Canelo Alvarez takes on Britain’s Callum Smith in a super middleweight title fight (Dazn)
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Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez takes on Britain’s Callum Smith this weekend in a super middleweight title fight that is expected to attract millions of viewers online.

It is Canelo’s first fight in 2020 and could cement his reputation as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world if he can unify the belts. But beyond boxing legacy is a side story involving multi-million dollar contracts, broadcasting rights, and the unprecedented proliferation of free live streams spreading online.

A $365 million 11-fight contract between broadcaster DAZN and Canelo’s promoter Golden Boy was dissolved last month after both parties agreed to end it. Despite the Mexican being a free agent, the contest will still be streamed on DAZN, costing viewers £1.99 to sign up and watch.

Only around 12,000 fans will be allowed inside the Alamodome venue in Texas due to Covid-19 restrictions, meaning thousands, if not millions, will be looking to watch it online.

The fee, despite being relatively low for a box office bout, means many fight fans will likely look for free ways to watch a live stream. Pirated feeds typically begin to flood social media sites like Facebook and Twitter in the build up to the fight.

Previous high-profile fights, such as the recent heavyweight showdown between Anthony Joshua and Kubrat Pulev, also saw free live stream sites rank highly on popular search engines, as well as appear in dedicated forums in sites like Reddit. 

Canelo Alvarez is now a free agent
Canelo Alvarez is now a free agent (Getty)

Such high-profile fights have resulted in tens of thousands of illicit streams being taken down, according to piracy data, with potentially millions of people viewing them.

In an effort to crackdown on the piracy scourge, police have taken the unorthodox step of targeting the viewers of streams rather than the people and firms hosting them.

Thousands of people in the UK this month received cease-and-desist warnings from Lancashire police, who warned that anyone seeking to watch live streams for free illegally could face up to five years in prison.

“People who [watch free streams] might not realise that they are illegal, but the fact is they are, and we believe that the people who sell them know that,” said Olivia Dodding, Cyber Protect/ Prevent Officer at the Lancashire Constabulary.

“What may cost you a relatively small one-off fee, actually results in television producers and sports broadcasters losing millions of pounds, which affects their ability to make and show sports events and entertainment series, which many of us enjoy watching.”

Despite the warnings, no individual has ever received a prison sentence for simply watching an illegal live stream.

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