Dimming Star or PPV Blackhole?

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Excitement, power, skill, knockouts, and two of the top pound for pound fighters on the planet in Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin; these are all the ingredients needed to make a successful PPV debut for Golovkin. Right?

Well, maybe not as reports from multiple media outlets reported that Saturday’s PPV, headlined by Golovkin’s eighth round knockout over David Lemieux, came in at around 150k buys with some suggesting the fight struggled to reach 125k in PPV buys.

If these reported numbers are anywhere close to accurate, it would be a huge blow to team Golovkin who were hoping Saturday’s sold out ticket sales of Madison Square Garden would translate to about the 250k buy range on PPV. Golovkin’s promoter, Tom Loeffler, had previously stated that it would take about 200k PPV buys to make the fight a success financially. At best it looks like Golovkin fell short of that mark, but could this possibly foreshadow an even deeper problem for the HBO star?

Saturday’s fight being profitable or not isn’t what should give K2 Promotions or Golovkin any worry going forward (although HBO might disagree), it’s the fact that compared to other PPV stars debuts his numbers fall way short.

Floyd Mayweather Jr., Oscar De La Hoya, and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez all did around 300k in PPV buys for their respective debuts as the “A” side fighter. That’s more than double the best projections given to Saturday night’s buy rate.

Perhaps even more troubling for K2 Promotions and HBO is the fact that at 33 years of age Golovkin is primed and ready to take over now and may not have the time to grow into the “cash cow” that his contemporaries were allowed to. At the age of 33, Floyd, Manny, and Oscar were already the top dogs of boxing and at just 25 Canelo is already seen as the heir to Mayweather’s PPV crown. Perhaps that’s why HBO chose to air the fight on PPV that quite frankly was better suited as an HBO Championship Boxing event. Is it possible the numbers show that Golovkin’s star isn’t as bright as once suggested? Possible yes, but numbers may not tell the whole story.

One possible explanation for the low buy rate this past Saturday could be the simple fact that it was a good old fashioned mismatch. David couldn’t beat Goliath this time and if you follow the odds at all the outcome was all but given. A valid argument can be made that Golovkin is already too big of a star to be matched with the likes of a Lemieux; therefore, there was no real selling point to the fight.

It’s a hard sell to ask fight fans to fork over $50 to watch a fight with no real drama, no stakes, and no real “B” side in that much of The United States had never seen Lemieux. In a year that has seen $100 PPV prices and disappointing matchups fans could have been more than willing to pass on this mismatch. Mayweather-Pacquiao fatigue may have also doomed this PPV as casual fans may have checked out of boxing for a while after the nonstop media blitz that’s been going since May between the two.

Another explanation is that fight fans are simply waiting to put their hard earned money on the upcoming super fight between Canelo Alvarez and Miguel Cotto. Golovkin has done really well and is highly regarded in the Latino fan base, but it is possible that some, or a lot, of his fans, are waiting until Nov. 21 to buy PPV. It also is possible that the PPV model as we know it is fading. We may never see a PPV king with numbers like Floyd Mayweather Jr. again.

Between PPV saturation, still recovering economy, and the prevalence of streaming, PPV as a whole seems to have taken a swan dive. Even Floyd Mayweather’s last fight only did 400-500k buys which is way below his standard. With the exception of the Pacquiao fight, Floyd’s fights have been on a decline since his September 2013 fight with Canelo Alvarez.

Pacquiao’s numbers follow a similar trend of declining until the “Fight of the Century” in May. Canelo fought off PPV in May for the first time since April of 2013. Miguel Cotto, this generation’s other PPV star, underperformed with 350k buys in his last PPV appearance against Sergio Martinez for the lineal middleweight title. With that being said, all the aforementioned numbers still crush Golovkin’s PPV debut. The big question that still remains is if Saturday’s buy rate is a reflection of Golovkin’s dimming star power or is PPV becoming a black hole.

Hopefully, November’s clash between Canelo and Cotto will give us the answers to if the PPV model as we know it can succeed in today’s society. If that fight doesn’t succeed, with it’s built in rivalry and fan bases, I don’t think it is fair to expect Golovkin to be able to achieve huge PPV success. One thing we can definitely conclude from Golovkin’s debut PPV numbers is that GGG will have a hard time trying to convince the likes of Canelo, Cotto, or even Andre Ward that he is indeed the “A” side that HBO and K2 were trying to portray him as.

That, of course, is not to say that Golovkin can’t reach that status, but at 33 years of age, it’s becoming more and more clear that it might take GGG putting his ego aside and letting someone else be the lead dance partner if he wants to tango with any of the big names. Golovkin desperately needs for the legitimacy of his pound for pound status he has received from many in the boxing media and the public.