The pay-per-view debut of Gennady Golovkin on October 17 did not pull in big numbers, by the standards of recent boxing megafights — most of which involved now-retired, undefeated welterweight Floyd Mayweather, Jr. But Golovkin's promoters insist that the Los Angeles-based, Kazakh knockout artist made them a profit with his eighth-round stoppage of Canadian middleweight David Lemieux, and that Golovkin is now poised to become boxing's next major pay-per-view attraction with Mayweather out of action and Manny Pacquiao insisting he will fight only one more time.
The Gennady Golvkin vs. David Lemieux event, broadcast live from Madison Square Garden in New York City, drew "just over 150,000 buys," according to Tom Loeffler, managing director of K2 Promotions, the company founded by Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko that promotes Golovkin.
Loeffler said the pay-per-view broadcast, which was the first for Golovkin, who had fought most of his recent bouts on the regular HBO subscription channel, pulled in about $8 million worth of revenue.
By comparison, Mayweather garnered more than 300,000 buys in his pay-per-view debut, as did Oscar De La Hoya before him.
"If HBO was testing the PPV market for Golovkin here, that aspect surely wasn't a home run, but probably more like a drag bunt single, if that," wrote columnist Wil Esco of the Bad Left Hook boxing news site. "It looks like the network, promoters, marketers, etc. still have their work cut out for them to bring Golovkin into the big time."
Loeffler had earlier cited a figure of 200,000 as his projection for the fight, but afterward, cited a high level of televised sports competition on October 17 — including a high-profile baseball playoff game between the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs as well as a number of college football telecasts — as a factor cutting into the expected PPV totals.
But officials at HBO, the network that carried the fight on its pay-per-view service, expressed no disappointment at the seemingly low PPV numbers.
"Golovkin-Lemieux met or exceeded every benchmark of success which was set going into the event," said HBO Sports Vice-President Mark Taffet, quoted by Yahoo! Sports. "The PPV buys solidly met expectations even amidst the Mets-Cubs national telecast registering the highest-ever TBS baseball playoff viewership including the PPV-critical markets of New York and Chicago."
The fight's live box-office performance was more remarkable, selling out Madison Square Garden with an attendance figure of 20,548, making the fight the first boxing event in more than 15 years to sell out the famed Garden without involving either Miguel Cotto or Felix Trinidad, Puerto Rican champions with large and ardent followings among New York City's Puerto Rican community of more than 700,000, plus many more in the city's suburbs.
Loeffler insisted that the Golovkin vs. Lemieux event turned a profit.
"I've heard a lot of bizarre speculation that we did very poorly or that we're going to lose money, and to be honest with you, I don't know where any of that came from," Loeffler told Yahoo!.
Speaking of bizarre speculation, much of that now surrounds the possible identity of Golovkin's next opponent — with even the name of former middleweight king Bernard Hopkins thrown into the ring.
Hopkins last fought in November of last year, at age 49, losing a unanimous decision to light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev. But Hopkins recently boasted that he would "disarm" Golovkin if the two had fought in their primes, and the now-50-year-old, 55-7-2 Hopkins is believed to be seeking one final fight next year.
Gennady Golovkin, according to Loeffler, plans to be in attendance at ringside at the much-anticipated November 21 fight between Cotto and Mexican star Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, hoping to fight the winner in an event likely to generate far higher PPV numbers.
[Featured Photo By Al Bello / Getty Images]