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‘Big Drama Show’ gets big ratings for HBO

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The decision to put Gennady Golovkin on HBO instead of keeping him on PPV proved to be a very wise one.

When Gennady Golovkin vs. Canelo Alvarez 2 was cancelled in April, there was initial talk of keeping Golovkin on HBO pay-per-view, provided they could find a suitable opponent. A change of plans was made, as Golovkin was placed on regular HBO, just as Top Rank inquired about broadcasting Golovkin’s next fight on ESPN.

If Golovkin vs. Vanes Martirosyan was (rightfully) derided as being a mismatch between the best middleweight in the world and a junior middleweight contender who’d never won a world title or indeed fought since 2016, the fans evidently didn’t really care about that.

Nielsen Media Research revealed on Tuesday that the main event averaged 1.249 million viewers, with a peak of 1.361 million, making it the most-watched boxing fight on premium cable television in 2018. The previous high was set by Deontay Wilder’s thrilling win over Luis Ortiz in March, at just about 1.055 million viewers.

This is welcome news for HBO, which has significantly slashed its boxing budget over the years and has lost several notable fighters due to Top Rank Boxing severing ties with the network. The last time HBO achieved such a high viewership total for a non-PPV event was Golovkin’s second-round KO of Dominic Wade in April 2016.

The 18-49 demographic rating specifically for GGG-Martirosyan was 0.44, top-5 among all cable programming on Saturday, as the bout had an unusually late start time of 12:06 AM ET.

After a competitive opening round, Golovkin poured on the pressure in round two, and literally seconds after trainer Edmond Tarverdyan shouted “Head movement, Vanes!” to his fighter, the Kazakh power-puncher thrashed Martirosyan with a series of blows, and that was the end of Vanes’ night.

With that fight out of the way, attention now turns to whether we see Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs) take on Canelo (49-1-2, 34 KOs) in September, or if he’ll take on one of the many other top middleweights, including WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders, Jermall Charlo, Sergey Derevyanchenko, Daniel Jacobs, or even Japanese star Ryota Murata.

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