By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – There was skepticism within the boxing industry when it was announced Madison Square Garden was the chosen venue for the Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Geale middleweight title fight Saturday night.
Kazakhstan’s Golovkin (29-0, 26 KOs) is one of boxing’s fastest-rising stars, an extremely likeable knockout artist who has drawn well in The Theater at Madison Square Garden and provided good ratings for HBO, which has televised four of his past six fights. Golovkin-Geale also is a competitive fight, on paper perhaps the toughest of Golovkin’s eight-year career.
Doubt still existed among promoters and other industry insiders regarding Golovkin’s readiness as an established ‘A’ side capable of selling enough tickets to make renting the big building worthwhile. They also were cynical because Australia’s Geale (30-2, 16 KOs), while an accomplished two-time middleweight title-holder, doesn’t have an American fan base and because the card will take place in the middle of the summer – a tough time to sell boxing tickets.
Those reservations apparently were justified.
Despite proclomations by organizers of the event that the six-bout card will sell out the lower-bowl configuration of nearly 9,000 seats Saturday night, several sources confirmed Thursday that the amount of tickets that had been sold as of Thursday morning actually was closer to 5,500. That amount of fans would fill The Theater to capacity, but would make Madison Square Garden seem mostly empty.
Golovkin’s last fight at The Theater, an eighth-round stoppage of Brooklyn’s Curtis Stevens (27-4, 20 KOs), drew about 4,500 fans Nov. 2. That box-office success prompted K2 Promotions, which represents Golovkin, to rent the Garden’s main arena for Saturday night.
“[Saturday night] is going to be a testament to Gennady’s marketability,” an optimistic Tom Loeffler, K2’s managing director, told the New York Daily News for Thursday’s editions. “This was the right step to take, to fight in the big room.”
Regardless, Golovkin-Geale is selling much worse than the last middleweight title fight at the Garden. A capacity crowd of 21,090 fans filled Madison Square Garden for Puerto Rican icon Miguel Cotto’s technical knockout victory over then-WBC middleweight champion Sergio Martinez on June 7.
Tickets to the Cotto-Martinez card cost $750, $500, $300, $200, $100 and $50. Tickets were priced at $500, $300, $200, $100, $50 and $25 for the Golovkin-Geale card largely because K2 Promotions needs to account for the high cost of moving Golovkin into the Garden’s main arena.
It costs at least $400,000 for promoters to rent Madison Square Garden for a boxing event, plus expensive union costs for workers. The Theater at Madison Square Garden can be rented for about $100,000, plus lesser union-related costs.
The $25, $50 and $500 tickets have sold well for Golovkin-Geale, but huge pockets of tickets in the $200 and $300 price ranges remain available.
If discounted tickets sell well over the next couple days, Golovkin-Geale could come closer to becoming the box-office success it has been portrayed to be in recent days. With time running out, though, it seems as though the card headlined by the Golovkin-Geale fight would’ve been a better fit, particiuarly financially, in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.