There are four belts on the line in the main event, but there is much more at stake at Madison Square Garden Saturday: no less than the future direction of the sport of boxing.
NEW YORK, October 17, 2015 – The elements have come together to produce a sold-out arena at Madison Square Garden in New York City for HBO Boxing’s pay per view card featuring middleweights Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin and David Lemieux in the main event.
With four belts on the line in a rare unification bout headlining the show, there is plenty at stake for Golovkin and Lemieux inside the ring. On the undercard, there are three additional title fights and a title eliminator.
Outside the ring, there is even more on the line, for the participants and for boxing. It is nothing less than a fork in the road. One leads toward stardom and all the things that go with it; the other leads toward doors closing.
Triple G’s team at K2 Promotions has executed the perfect game plan to date. They have done a masterful job cultivating a diverse audience, taking advantage of Golovkin’s ever present smile and genuinely friendly nature, backed up by his intimidating power in the ring, all wrapped up in plenty of showmanship.
Fueled by social media catch phrases, it’s all been slowly building to this moment since Golovkin arrived on the U.S. boxing scene three years ago. Saturday Golovkin needs to make the most of this opportunity, but not only for himself. HBO and the rest of boxing are counting on GGG to be their ambassador to the sport in the next few years.
Lemieux would like to derail the Triple G train, and he’s got the potential to do it. He also has plenty of power to please fans, and he is an English/French speaking Canadian of Armenian heritage with great crossover appeal of his own. A victory over Golovkin would be an upset and change Lemieux’s future in a big way.
Boxing purists have a sincere appreciation for the technical mastery of Floyd Mayweather in the boxing ring. But Mayweather doesn’t provide the kind of thrills casual fans yearn for. They want knockouts. They want the Big Drama Show. They want Triple G, an entrance to the White Stripes “Seven Nation Army” in a bright blue robe, with an atmosphere more like a rock concert than a prizefight.
Promoters want to sell tickets and pay per view buys. Without question, Mayweather is the undisputed king, with a record sellout of the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and more than four million pay per view buys for his fight against Manny Pacquiao in May. He won’t be challenged for this title anytime soon.
Saturday’s card at Madison Square Garden is a sellout, a good first step. Now HBO and promoters will anxiously await the pay per view numbers from Saturday. They expressed caution on the projected totals, saying that anything over 200,000 buys would make the event a financial success; 300,000 would make it a “huge success” according to Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions.
The reason this is important: it generates bigger purses for the fighters, which attracts top talent who have more to lose. Until now, most potential opponents have avoided Golovkin because the risk/reward ratio is too low. To face someone with the potential to put you on the canvas, it requires enough money to make it worth your while. Golovkin is at that tipping point now; with a win, bigger and better match ups with bigger paydays become possible. Everyone wins.
There is also plenty at stake in the co-main event between WBC flyweight champion (112 pounds) Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez of Nicaragua (43-0, 37 KOs) and American Brian “Hawaiian Punch” Viloria (36-4, 22 KOs), fighting for Gonzalez’ WBC title belt. Gonzalez is considered the number one pound for pound boxer in the world on multiple lists, chased by Golovkin and heavyweight Wladimir Klitschko.
But in this bout, the potential for stardom might be greater for the challenger, Viloria. Gonzalez lacks the notoriety of Golovkin and has a disadvantage not speaking English. Certainly, serious boxing fans are enthralled by the powerhouse flyweight. The one-two combination of Golovkin and Gonzalez proved to be a winner earlier this year in Los Angeles, where the pair filled the Forum with enthusiastic fans. They have again helped fuel ticket sales together at Madison Square Garden. Should both win in spectacular fashion, K2 and Golden Boy would be wise to keep this double bill together for the foreseeable future.
Viloria would love to be the fly in the flyweight ointment, and if there is to be an upset, Viloria has the power and experience to do it. He is plenty fan friendly and engaging, and the only American in any of the televised bouts. While purists might cringe seeing “Chocolatito’s” perfect record be ruined, Viloria has the ability to carry the banner for the smaller weight classes over the next few years, especially in the U.S. in a way Gonzelez may not. Viloria also presents crossover appeal to many Filipino fans due to his heritage, a plus since Manny Pacquiao’s future is unknown at this point following his loss to Mayweather and recent shoulder surgery.
Promoters are also counting on their attention to the entire undercard lineup Saturday to pay off. While many promoters such as Bob Arum of Top Rank believe fans could not care less about the undercard, the troika of K2, Golden Boy, and Eye of the Tiger believe a good undercard will fuel sales and pay per view purchases, and hope to prove they are right Saturday.
The late Yogi Berra, a New York City icon if there ever was one, famously said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” The fork is firmly positioned in the center of Madison Square Garden. We will see where that fork leads on Saturday, and whether boxing history is ahead.
Communities Digital News is ringside in New York and will bring you all the coverage on Fight Night on Saturday, October 17.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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