Back on September 1, middleweight contender Gennady Golovkin made a splash on American TV with a scintillating performance on HBO, stopping Grzegorz Proksa in the fifth round of their main event at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York.
But while the win was pleasing to watch, it also tanked on HBO, with just 685,000 viewers tuning in to see a handful of fighters (Golovkin, Proksa, Sergiy Dzinziruk, Jonathan Gonzalez) that most fans probably haven't even heard of, or at least aren't familiar with at all, the lowest-rated HBO show of 2012.
Golovkin (24-0, 21 KO) is a legitimate contender in the middleweight division. But he is not a star, and he's got a long way to go before he builds his name enough that he could face the likes of Sergio Martinez, says Martinez's promoter, Lou DiBella.
"Who would give a flying fuck, and why are you even asking? Who knows Gennady Golovkin other than you, me and a few other people? How many people would he bring to the table? How much money would he generate? ... He is a very good fighter, but it's a fight that economically makes no sense."
DiBella's point is this: Sergio Martinez, now 37 years old and coming off by far the biggest (not best - biggest) win of his career over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, is in this game now to make money. He's got the credibility. He's got the quality wins. He's got the P4P love. He's got the respect. And now he wants to be that star-level fighter.
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But with so few stars in the middleweight division - basically, there is Chavez and Martinez at the moment - it's worth wondering what DiBella is hoping for. Is it a move back to 154 for a fight with one of the big stars there, like Mayweather, Cotto, or Canelo? Well, sure, but will any of them fight him?
They've said repeatedly he won't move up in weight to face someone like Andre Ward, and Ward has even said he understands that Martinez is too small.
DiBella mentions the Chavez Jr rematch, but that's got a long time to simmer with JCC facing a suspension in Nevada for a failed drug test. If Sergio is shut out of big fights at 154 - which is not just possible, it's likely for the time being - then who does he fight at 160 who is worth so much more money than Golovkin?
It remains to be seen if Martinez is worth big money on his own, or if he still really needs an A-side dance partner. My guess is that one fight didn't turn Sergio from a heavily-pushed but ultimately mid-tier name in boxing into a superstar. It wasn't that big of a fight. Martinez deserves to be a superstar in every way, but he's just not on that level, sadly.
But we'll see what Lou might have in mind for early next year. There are a lot of pieces still on the board, and moving.