By Jake Donovan

Gennady Golovkin was extended into the 11th round of his eventual stoppage win over Martin Murray in their Feb. 21, the deepest he’s ever had to go in his pro career in order to secure a knockout.

The extended length of the bout stayed with the home audience, as the Feb. 21 late afternoon special edition of HBO World Championship Boxing generated 862,000 viewers. The event peaked at 938,000 home viewers, and—combined with its exclusive prime-time rebroadcast later that evening—was watched by 1.433 million homes. 

HBO was live on the scene at Salle des Étoiles in Monte Carlo, Monaco—learning its lesson from a year ago, when a breakdown in logistics resulted in U.S. audiences being denied live televised coverage. The event marked the first time in its 40+ years of covering the sport that HBO took its cameras to the luxury resort, a move necessitated by Golovkin—one of the hottest rising stars in the sport today—fighting annually at the location. 

The strong late afternoon performance spoke volumes of Golovkin’s star power, far surpassing HBO’s most notable bouts that have aired in a similar time slot. Chief among them, Carl Froch’s repeat knockout win over George Groves last May drew 700,000 stateside viewers, in addition to the massive pile of cash it generated from the live gate and Pay-Per-View revenue in the United Kingdom. 

Froch-Groves II was a huge event, certainly the biggest all-UK matchup in recent memory and one that carried a wave of momentum. While Golovkin has transitioned from cult favorite to bona fide boxing star, his fight on Saturday was just that—a fight. The bout aired at a time when the sport was celebrating the signing of a certain huge and long awaited event that will take place May 2, although little of the broadcast was dedicated towards discussing that particular contest. 

In historical terms, Saturday’s win was also the 13th defense of the alphabet title Golovkin has held since 2010, moving past Felix Sturm and the legendary Marvelous Marvin Hagler for most consecutive middleweight title defenses. Golovkin now only trails the late, great Carlos Monzon (who owns the record for most World lineal middleweight championship defenses) and modern-day legend Bernard Hopkins on the all-time list.

The win was also Golovkin’s 19th straight inside the distance, dating back to 2008. The Kazakhstani knockout artist has been extended beyond the eighth round just one other time in his career—enduring a stiff challenge from Kassim Ouma before putting away the former 154 lb. titlist in 10 rounds during their June ’11 meet in Panama City, Panama. 

Murray (29-2-1, 12KOs) was a longshot to win but figured to extend Golovkin some rounds. The British middleweight had never previously been stopped in a prizefight, though coming up just short on the championship level. His previous title attempts both came on the road, fighting Felix Sturm to a draw in their Dec. ’11 title fight in Germany, and landing on the wrong end of a debatable decision versus Sergio Martinez in their April ’13 World middleweight championship contest in Argentina. 

There was no such controversy or dispute versus Golovkin (32-0, 29KOs). A pair of knockdowns in round four—both courtesy of body shots—had Murray in a world of trouble, but he valiantly stood his ground in taking the unbeaten 32-year old top middleweight into uncharted territory. 

Golovkin delivered an exclamation point late in round ten, with a right hand knocking Murray off his heels and flat on his back. He somehow beat the count, but found himself quickly under siege before being rescued by referee Luis Pabón early in the 11th round. 

The February 21 meet was Golovkin’s 7th appearance on HBO. His last bout on the American cable giant took place last October, scoring a 2nd round knockout over veteran contender Marco Antonio Rubio. Despite the brief affair, the fight lasted long enough to pull in a peak average of 1.3 million viewers, good for the second-most watched stateside fight of 2014. 

His next fight will likely come in the spring—either May or June. Where exactly it lands depends on the opponent he’s able to secure, although it will take place somewhere in the United States. Golovkin’s handlers have mentioned Las Vegas as a bucket-list location, having never before played the famous gambling and fight town. New York and the greater Los Angeles area—two regions where Golovkin has been developed as a rising attraction—are also in play. 

All ratings data comes from Nielsen Media Research.

Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox