Golovkin-Lemieux: Why now?
This past weekend, various boxing scribes received phone calls from Oscar De La Hoya and/or Tom Loeffler about a middleweight unification bout consummated for Oct. 17 between WBA champion Gennady Golovkin and IBF beltholder David Lemieux at Madison Square Garden in New York, Golovkin’s initial foray into the pay-per-view realm.
Yeah, the news was as stunning as it was exciting for a very simple reason: In recent years, boxing fans had been conditioned to be let down as fights were over-marinated and pushed back to a point where they go well past their expiration dates – and sometimes don’t even happen at all.
You got the sense that perhaps Golden Boy Promotions would wait a bit to pull the trigger on this bout but, according to Loeffler, things moved at a brisk pace last week during negotiations and, suddenly, by Saturday afternoon, we had a fight.
Short of Golovkin facing Miguel Cotto or Saul Alvarez, this is perhaps the most important and biggest fight that could be made for him, currently. “GGG” had made it very clear that his main objective, for the time being, was to unify the 160 pound class. And Lemieux, who won this title in emphatic fashion on June 20 by decking the game Hassan N’Dam four times en route to a 12-round decision, is someone who brings a legitimate proverbial “punchers chance” to the dance.
While, to some, this fight somehow feels premature (which, I have to be honest, makes no sense), it says here that the fight comes at exactly the right time for everyone involved.
Bottom line is, Golovkin, for all his accolades, his actual resume is a bit lacking – though no real fault of his own – but patience of a certain segment of the boxing public was beginning to wear a bit thin. He has faced some solid opposition such as the likes of Martin Murray and Matthew Macklin but he had yet to face a fellow middleweight beltholder and there was a growing chorus for him to face super middleweight Andre Ward. When Loeffler, managing director of K2 Promotions, floated the idea of a 164-pound catchweight for such a clash, the catchweight police came out in full force with unbridled fury (and hell hath no fury quite like them).
Fortunately, this fight was consummated for Golovkin, who can concentrate on doing what Bernard Hopkins and Marvelous Marvin Hagler did before him: Clean out the middleweight division and collect all the belts.
For Lemieux, the flimsiest of excuses for this fight to be is, somehow, that he needed more time to develop and cultivate his skills. Uh, this is a guy with 36 professional bouts (among which he has amassed a record of 34-2 with 31 stoppages) and has a major belt. This isn’t Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who had virtually no amateur career and needed to be nurtured well into his 40th professional fight. Lemieux is what he is: a heavy-handed, left-hooker, who, to his credit, has refined his skills and is a much more disciplined individual in the wake of his two defeats at the hands of Marco Antonio Rubio and Joachim Alcine. But the core of what he is and who he is will remain the same (and, again, any guy who can lose to Alcine is vulnerable to have another bad night against a lesser foe at any given moment). He isn’t going to get all that much better.
And there is this factor: Tureano Johnson, who, in the very near future, might be Lemieux’s mandatory challenger. Johnson is a good, solid prizefighter and, if you canvas the opinion of most boxing observers, is probably even money versus Lemieux. And here’s the rub: It’s a fight that isn’t nearly as lucrative as this upcoming fight versus Golovkin. Looking back, Golden Boy was the only one to participate in the purse bid for Lemieux-N’Dam with an offering of $102,000 (which was split between the two fighters). Now, not saying there couldn’t have been some side money given to Lemieux but it’s clear that Lemieux didn’t make all that much. Realistically, how much would a fight against Johnson net him?
There’s a very good chance Lemieux will be guaranteed seven figures for this upcoming fight. There’s an old saying in this business: “If you’re going to lose or take a risk, do it for the most amount of money.” From that perspective, no matter how big of an underdog Lemieux is against Golovkin, this was an easy business decision.
HBO, which is facing a budget crunch in the second half of 2015, simply didn’t have the money to support the economic demands of both fighters to make this fight come to fruition. The network had also made it clear to Golden Boy that – for as much as they liked him – they weren’t going to put Lemieux on scholarship. If they wanted a few tune-ups or soft defenses, they weren’t going to do it on their dime. HBO has made it crystal clear that they are in the Golovkin business and they needed to move things along.
Loeffler, who has masterfully guided Golovkin’s career over the past two years, wanted to dip their toes into the pay-per-view market and gauge where they stood as they positioned themselves (hopefully) for a 2016 showdown with either Miguel Cotto or Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Word is this pay-per-view will be priced to sell (yeah, nothing close to $100 here) and if you do the math, you’ll figure that neither guy is guaranteed more than $2.5 million dollars and if this event is priced at, say, 60 bucks and they do 200,000 buys – which seems pretty reasonable – then you have $12 million dollars in pay-per-view revenue, which amounts to nearly $6 million for the promotion, more than any license fee that HBO can come up with in his day and age and more than enough to give both Golovkin and Lemieux career-high paydays.
And judging by the buzz (at least on Twitter), it’s clear that this fight will draw very well at the Garden (where Golovkin headlined last summer inside the big room versus Daniel Geale). Loeffler has stated that tickets will be priced very affordably – again, they are trying to work in volume here. Golovkin is one of the rare fighters who can draw on both coasts and Lemieux will bring some fans from Montreal, Quebec. It should be an electric atmosphere that evening.
Despite the steep odds (Lemieux is as high as a 20-1 ‘dog, according to some books), this fight has captured the interest and imagination of the paying public (yeah, some still don’t mind if boxing isn’t FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!) and it figures to be a clash that provides fireworks for as long as it lasts. Imagine that: a fight that might actually deliver action and entertainment.
Loeffler stated that we’d be pleasantly surprised by Golovkin’s next opponent, while, in the UK for the Wladimir Klitschko-Tyson Fury press conference last week. Oscar De La Hoya had promised “best versus best” in terms of the fights he’d promote. Both delivered. Golovkin and Lemieux are two fighters who consistently put on a good show.
So you’re telling me this fight is too early?
Actually, it’s right on time.
OK, many of you have asked when the press conference for Golovkin-Lemieux will take place and when tickets go on sale. What I know is Loeffler is in Germany/Europe till early August. When he returns to the States for the press tour (which will be basically Los Angeles and New York or vice versa), somewhere around that time, tickets will go on sale.
I haven’t heard specific prices for tickets or the pay-per-view.
(Regardless, I’ve booked my travel for this fight already and I’m putting in a request to Miami to make sure their game versus Virginia Tech at the Sun Life Stadium be an afternoon event. Anyhoo, see you guys there…)
Yes, Roman Gonzalez could be the co-feature on Oct. 17 but let’s hope he doesn’t take the path of least resistance and, instead, takes on a guy like Brian Viloria….Still no final word on Cotto-Canelo but I booked my flight to Las Vegas for the weekend of Nov. 21 anyway…The Premier Boxing Champions card on NBC Sports Network this past weekend did just under 250,000 viewers…The HBO broadcast featuring Sergey Kovalev vs. Nadjib Mohammedi averaged just over a million. Not bad considering it’s the summer and – let’s face it – a blow-out…Golden Boy has signed a deal with Estrella TV to broadcast two broadcasts a month…Oscar Valdez could be headlining the next truTV card on Sept. 11…The killing of “Cecil the Lion”…geez…what fun is there in killing defenseless animals?…So Tom Brady destroyed his cell phone? He’s got insurance, right?…Welcome back, Eric Berry….So is “Pixels” worth seeing?…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.