By Keith Idec
Viewers weren’t afforded much time, but that didn’t stop more than 1.3 million of them from tuning in to watch Gennady Golovkin’s fight Saturday night.
Nielsen Media Research ratings released Tuesday showed a peak audience of 1,361,000 watched Golovkin’s second-round knockout of Vanes Martirosyan, which HBO televised from StubHub Center in Carson, California. The brief Golovkin-Martirosyan match was watched by an average of 1,249,000 viewers, despite that it began late on the East Coast (12:07 a.m. ET).
Those ratings made Golovkin-Martirosyan the most-watched boxing match on cable television in 2018. That distinction previously belonged to Deontay Wilder’s 10th-round knockout of Luis Ortiz, which Showtime televised March 3 from Barclays Center in Brooklyn (peak: 1,200,000; average: 1,100,000).
Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs) fought live on HBO for the first time since he stopped England’s Kell Brook in the fifth round in September 2016 in London. His previous two fights – a narrow win over Daniel Jacobs in March 2017 and a controversial draw with Canelo Alvarez on September 16 – headlined HBO Pay-Per-View shows.
The Kazakh knockout artist’s victory over Brook attracted an average audience of 843,000, even though it aired live early in the evening on the East Coast (roughly 6 p.m. ET) and in the middle of the afternoon on the West Coast (approximately 3 p.m. PT) in the United States.
The unbeaten IBF/IBO/WBA/WBC middleweight champion was supposed to face Alvarez again Saturday night in a high-profile, pay-per-view rematch. Mexico’s Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) withdrew from their second bout April 3 because his handlers learned that the Nevada State Athletic Commission would extend his temporary suspension for failing two performance-enhancing drug tests in February.
The NSAC suspended Alvarez for six months April 18 at its monthly meeting in Las Vegas. Alvarez claims contaminated meat was the source of him testing positive for clenbuterol.
Martirosyan (36-4-1, 21 KOs), of Glendale, California, took this very difficult fight on only 2½ weeks’ notice. Golovkin was a 30-1 favorite over him in large part because Martirosyan moved up from junior middleweight and hadn’t fought in nearly two years.
The opener of HBO’s doubleheader Saturday night, Cecilia Braekhus’ win against Kali Reis also attracted strong viewership (peak: 1,024,000; average: 904,000).
Norway’s Braekhus (33-0, 9 KOs), women’s boxing’s undisputed welterweight champion, survived a seventh-round knockdown and getting hurt again in the eighth round to win a unanimous decision in their 10-rounder. Braekhus’ defeat of Reis (13-7-1, 4 KOs), of Providence, Rhode Island, was the first women’s match HBO aired since the premium cable network began broadcasting boxing in 1973.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.