By Jake Donovan
Less than 2,000 tickets remain for Gennady Golovkin’s highly anticipated July 26 middleweight tile fight with Daniel Geale, which also marks debut in the main room at Madison Square Garden.
The bout, which will air live on HBO, marks the first stateside appearance of 2014 for Golovkin (29-0, 26KOs), whose lone fight this year took place in Monte Carlo.
The unbeaten knockout artist from Kazakhstan played Madison Square Garden’s Theatre venue three times in 2013. With his popularity rising with each visit, it was decided by his team that it was time to graduate to the main room.
“Gennady will be the first fighter besides Miguel Cotto to carry an event in the big arena since 2008,” points out Tom Loeffler, Managing Director of K2 Promotions and the driving force behind Golovkin’s soaring popularity in the United States. “Wladimir Klitschko sold out the arena, and Roy Jones fought twice there (versus Felix Trinidad and Joe Calzaghe) that year. Every other event since then has been headlined by Miguel Cotto since then.
“That’s how much marketability we’ve built. Gennady fits into that elite category.”
The venue is sectioned off for 9,000 seats plus luxury suites, which would seat roughly 3,000 more.
Golovkin is coming off of a 7th round knockout of Osumana Adama this past February, his first fight this year following a breakout campaign in 2013. A planned stateside return was on the docket for April, but was canceled when Golovkin was forced to withdraw from his scheduled title defense versus Andy Lee due to the untimely passing of his father.
The last fight in New York City for Golovkin came last November, when he knocked out Curtis Stevens in eight rounds. The event - which served as HBO’s third highest-rated fight of the year - was attended by 4,618 paying patrons, just two tickets short of a sellout.
With the current ticket sale trend, Golovkin figures to at least double that amount for his showdown with Geale (30-2, 16KO), a former titlist who has won nine of his 10 last bouts. The lone loss among that stretch ended his title reign, falling just short in a disputed split decision against Darren Barker in their sizzling 12-round war last August.
“We’re excited about Gennady coming back to Madison Square Garden,” Loeffler said of his fighter’s return to New York City. “It’s fitting that his first fight in the big arena comes against his highest profile to date.”
The expectation heading into the event was to fill up the lower bowl. With nearly all of the VIP seats sold out and barely 100 tickets left at the next highest price range ($542), it’s entirely possible that more tickets will be made available to satisfy demand, for a card coming on the heels of Miguel Cotto’s upset technical knockout win over Sergio Martinez to claim the middleweight crown in June.
“We’ve taken a conservative approach to the full arena. That’s why we didn’t scale to the entire arena,” Loeffler says of the original marketing strategy. We’re pleased with ticket sales so far.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox