Good boy Gennady Golovkin’s second-round knockout of Marco Antonio Rubio -- GGG’s 18th KO in a row -- to retain his middleweight title for the 12th time on Saturday night at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, was a rousing success at the gate to the tune of a standing-room-only crowd of 9,323 as well as on HBO.
It was an electric atmosphere at the stadium, with most in the heavily Mexican crowd cheering for Golovkin against Rubio, a Mexican. In fact, the crowd broke out into chants of “Triple G! Triple G!”
It was such a great crowd and lively atmosphere that Dan Beckerman, the CEO of AEG, the company that owns StubHub as well as the Staples Center a few miles away in downtown Los Angeles, told me after the fight that he thought Golovkin, who was fighting on the West Coast for the first time, would have done a much bigger crowd at the Staples Center and that he very much wants Golovkin to headline there, ideally against Canelo Alvarez or Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
So we know Golovkin can sell tickets. He also has drawn well in New York at Madison Square Garden and the Theater at MSG.
But Golovkin (31-0, 28 KOs) is also clearly a big television draw, too, based on his numbers. Saturday’s viewership on HBO -- which has aired the top 10 cable TV fights this year (and 13 of the top 15) -- only added to that fact.
According to Nielsen Media Research, Golovkin-Rubio averaged 1.304 million viewers for the live, first-time airing. That makes it the second-best-performing fight on American cable television in 2014. Only the March rematch between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Bryan Vera drew more viewers (1.390 million). Golovkin-Rubio peaked at 1.323 million viewers, a healthy figure, especially considering that the fight was up against the Florida State-Notre Dame game, a huge college football matchup, on ABC.
The co-feature on Saturday’s card, Nicholas Walters' devastating sixth-round knockout of Nonito Donaire to win a featherweight world title, also performed well, averaging 1.1 million viewers (fifth best on cable TV in the U.S. this year so far) and peaking at 1.166 million viewers.
Here are the average viewership figures for all six of Golovkin’s HBO fights in chronological order:
• Gregorz Proksa (Sept. 1, 2012): 685,000
• Gabriel Rosado (Jan. 19, 2013): 813,000
• Matthew Macklin (June 29, 2013): 1.1 million
• Curtis Stevens (Nov. 2, 2013): 1.41 million
• Daniel Geale (July 26, 2014): 984,000
• Rubio (Oct. 18, 2014): 1.304 million
Golovkin’s ability to sell tickets and draw viewers means that he is headed for HBO PPV sooner than later and, ideally, a big-name opponent will get into the ring with him. Nobody can use the excuse that he doesn’t bring anything to the table. The fact is he brings money now and lots of it, not to mention big crowds and TV audiences who want to see his “big drama show.”