For all the buzz that Gennady Golovkin's HBO pay-per-view headlining debut has picked up, his fight on Saturday night with David Lemieux isn't exactly seen as an even contest by the oddsmakers, with Golovkin roughly a 2-to-1 favorite to unify the WBA and IBF titles at Madison Square Garden.
Golovkin (33-0, 30 KO) has trounced opponents since making his HBO debut in 2012 against Grzegorz Proksa. Back then, he wasn't a name to many American fans, and his TV ratings stunk. Now, he's a consistent winner for HBO in that department, and he's gone 8-0 on the network since then, and 10-0 overall, all wins coming inside the distance.
Despite Lemieux (34-2, 31 KO) himself being a very powerful puncher, he's seen as overmatched here. Past losses to Marco Antonio Rubio and Joachim Alcine don't help his case -- perhaps especially because when Golovkin met Rubio last October, he stopped the Mexican veteran in two rounds.
To Lemieux's credit, he's won ine straight since those back-to-back defeats in 2011, although most of those wins came against marginal opposition. His last win was his best, as he beat the talented Hassan N'Dam for the vacant IBF belt, dropping N'Dam four times over the 12 round fight.
Lines opened with Golovkin at -2000 and Lemieux at +1000, and haven't changed much. Here's a quick breakdown as of Monday morning:
But if the Golovkin-Lemieux odds are wide, well, the lines for the hyped co-feature fight are even bigger. Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez, the world flyweight champion and arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world today, was favored at -1250 against Brian Viloria (+650) when lines opened. The change there has been dramatic.
The other two pay-per-view undercard fights are no better. Bahamian middleweight Tureano Johnson, who is probably auditioning for a fight with Golovkin in early 2016, opened at -1429 against Ireland's Eamonn O'Kane (+700), while heavyweight Luis Ortiz started at -3333 to face Matias Ariel Vidondo (+1200). Those fights are no closer now:
Still, it's hard to imagine Golovkin or Gonzalez actually finding better opponents at 160 or 112. They are the two fighters on this show who really matter and are the reason people are going to be buying, and realistically, David Lemieux and Brian Viloria are legitimate contenders right now, and were both willing to step up and take these fights. In Lemieux's case, he had no great "business" reason to do so. As Max Kellerman said on "Face Off," he could have fought some mid-tier guys at home in Canada, defending his IBF belt, and made pretty decent money. And Viloria probably could have sought out an easier title opportunity than the best fighter in the division, maybe in the sport.
But those guys, a pair of good fighters, are here and they're going to fight. No, they don't look like viable upset candidates, but who would be? The decision to buy this PPV or not is going to come from how much you want to see GGG and Chocolatito, two of the best and most exciting fighters in the sport. Is entertainment value alone a compelling enough reason to spend $60 (or go low in quality for a discount and pay $50 for standard definition)?