To all who doubted, to all who stayed vigilant and to all who knew this kid had "it," the win at MSG was for you.
Gennady “GGG” Golovkin made his pay-per-view debut on Saturday, October 17th in what has been a point of culmination for the boxer. He looked awesome as punished Canadian David Lemieux with a jab-dominated battle.
It took 33 fights to gain the notoriety of the boxing public and with it came the WBA (Super) and IBO Middleweight belts. Fight number 34 saw Golovkin, GGG Promotions and K2 Promotions take on their stiffest challenge to date, a tough-as-nails competitor who many believed had a real shot and the support of Golden Boy, a behemoth of a co-promoter that usually is on the winning end of things.
Yet despite the success in the ring, the outcome on the business side might be deemed bittersweet.
According to sources, Madison Square Garden, which has hosted three GGG fights in the Theatre at MSG and this latest win in the big arena, Golovkin sold out the world’s most famous sports arena, with a solid 20,548 fans in attendance.
With NYC having a substantial Kazakhstan and Eastern European population that K2 Promotions has catered to for years with the Klitschko brothers, the sell out of MSG is awesome but not surprising. However, like the saying goes about numbers not lying, the PPV turnout wasn’t as large as anticipated.
According to Fighthype.com the bout yielded under 150,000 PV buys with an industry source telling the website the tally looked more like 125,000 buys.
Keep in mind when looking at these numbers that the playing field for PPV and boxing is beginning to shift. We are in a post-Fight of the Century world now and the PPV cost seems a bit much to an audience who felt they were bamboozled by May-Pac.
Add to the mix the fact that practically every other major champion lives on Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions free TV model and the price of boxing just changed for some who watch strictly from their homes.
But the Middleweight landscape looks fresh as ever with Golovkin on the big stage. With the quality of competition in the Middleweight division at an all-time high, Golovkin might be the one who resurrects PPV based on his desire to steer towards dangerous fights.
GGG has called out the likes of Andre Ward, Peter Quillen and JCC, Jr., hoping to get them to sign at the bottom line. The fight against Lemieux, a Golden Boy fighter, sets up a match against Canelo Alvarez if he bests Miguel Cotto on November 21st. If Cotto wins there is no guarantee he faces GGG as the Puerto Rican boxer looks to make the biggest purses possible on the tail end of his career and under new management in Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports.
Then there is Super Middleweight Champion Andre Ward who just signed a multi-fight deal with HBO, is moving up to the light heavyweight division and is also under Roc Nation Sports.
After being out of competition with contract issues with former promoter and now deceased, Dan Goosen, Ward’s primary target is a battle against current champion Sergey Kovalev at Light Heavyweight. Having built GGG into a NYC star and with Ward needing more firepower to his brand after recently returning from a two year hiatus, this fight could eventually happen.
Then there's Danny Jacobs and Peter Quillen who face off on December 5th and WBO middleweight champ Andy Lee if he beats Billy Joe Saunders on Dec. 19 or fulfill his IBF title mandatory Tureano Johnson.
Bottom line is that it takes growth and brand development to make a boxing superstar and the groundwork has been laid for GGG. Numbers do not lie so look at them both, attendance and PPV, and temper that by what competitors lay in wait.
Will folks step up and face this man to create future PPV history to match solid attendance or will GGG be like Terence Crawford who many are afraid to face for his career stealing ability?
Only time will tell.