By Jake Donovan
The HBO-televised tripleheader at Madison Square Garden’s The Theatre planned for January 19 is already approaching Standing Room Only status.
Recent box office reports show tickets remaining only in the upper 200's and 300’s sections for the first big stateside card of 2013. Gennady Golovkin faces Gabriel Rosado in a 12-round middleweight bout, which is supported by a strong undercard including a highly anticipated featherweight title fight between Orlando Salido and Miguel Angel Garcia.
“It’s a great show and just proves that fight fans will respond when they are given their money’s worth,” Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum said when hearing of the ticket sales progress while out of the country on vacation. “Garcia-Salido is a hell of a fight. The middleweight kid (Golovkin) is great to watch and we have a great supporting bout with (Juan Carlos) Burgos and (Rocky) Martinez.”
“The show is terrific from top to bottom and we fully expect it to be sold out by the time we arrive in New York for fight week before the show.”
Golovkin (24-0, 21KO) fights for the second straight time in New York. The unbeaten middleweight – who captured a silver medal for his native Kazakhstan in the 2004 Beijing Olympics – made his stateside and HBO debut last September, knocking out Grzegorz Proksa in two rounds at Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York.
The January 19 show marks his debut at the venue dubbed ‘The World’s Most Famous Arena’, as is the case for Salido (39-11-2, 27KO), whose lone New York appearance came further midtown at the Roseland Ballroom more than a decade ago.
The trip to New York wasn’t fully by design for the veteran titlist, who was originally scheduled to face Garcia last November in Las Vegas. An injury suffered by Salido during training camp postponed the bout by two months.
Garcia (30-0, 26KO) remained on the Vegas card, stopping replacement Jonathan Barros in eight rounds. Remaining active was the top priority for the unbeaten contender, who earned the title shot with a knockout win over Bernabe Concepcion on the March ’12 undercard of Salido’s repeat stoppage win over Juan Manuel Lopez.
With the postponement in his title fight comes a chance to return to Madison Square Garden. Garcia’s previous appearance at the venue came in Oct. ’11, stopping Juan Carlos Martinez in the fourth round of a supporting bout to Nonito Donaire’s 12-round decision win over Omar Narvaez. The main event wasn’t particularly memorable, but the show was sold out by fight night, making for a passionate atmosphere that stayed with Garcia.
“I had a great time in New York,” said Garcia, who celebrated his 25th birthday (Dec. 15th) as well as the Christmas and New Year’s holidays tucked away in training camp preparing for his first title shot. “People treated me right. I love the Big Apple. It’s not just a great city but a great fight town.”
There were concerns that the event would struggle at the box office with the fallout of a planned showdown between Juan Manuel Lopez and Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. The pair of ex-titlists from Puerto Rico figured to greater assist at the ticket booth for a New York City fight card, while many questioned why a fight between a Mexican and a Mexican-American would take place 3,000 miles east of either fighter’s fan base.
Suffice to say, those concerns were alleviated the day tickets went on sale.
“That just shows what kind of event Top Rank is putting together,” Garcia notes. “It’s a great undercard as well. Everybody is expecting a great fight with Salido. The fans want to see me fight someone like Salido.”
The show marks the first trip back to Madison Square Garden for Top Rank since Dec. 2011, when it staged Miguel Cotto’s revenge knockout win over Antonio Margarito. The fight was the last for Cotto with the company, having since lost twice, including his first ever defeat at the Garden last December in a failed title bid against Austin Trout.
Cotto previously went 8-0 at the venue, all of which were promoted by Top Rank.
“I love Madison Square Garden. It’s the mecca of boxing,” Arum states. “We hope to continue to do more throughout the year. We didn’t do any last year. The year before we did a few. It’s always great to do a show there.”
The audience of more than 5,000 on fight night will be inclined to agree.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox