With the news yesterday that Gennady Golovkin's pay-per-view debut this past Saturday came up short of even its modest, break-even projections, there's been a lot of talk about Golovkin's ability to become a pay-per-view draw in the United States.
Some are less skeptical than others, and there are reasons to be a bit optimistic, even though Golovkin-Lemieux's 150K was certainly not a good number. He remains an exciting, interesting fighter. There was serious sports competition from game one of the NLCS between the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs, two major market teams with great stories this year, plus Saturday night college football.
Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe spoke about the current PPV situation in boxing today on Twitter, making the point that nobody -- not even recent PPV superstars Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao -- just waltzed onto the pay-per-view scene and became a big seller.
"You don't become a PPV attraction overnight, it takes years of making that happen. There are many factors and few have succeeded. If it was easy, anybody could do it. Most have no clue how difficult it is. Big difference being a star in boxing and having star power."
Ellerbe then went on to do his job as chief Floyd Mayweather fan, saying that Mayweather left boxing better than it was, and "changed the game" for every fighter in the sport.
"You better have one hell of a ride or die team, also. When most were hating, we were working. When most were sleeping, we were working. (Floyd) beat everyone in his era, became a global superstar, changed the game, brought incredible visibility to the sport and most still hate. All the fighters are getting record purses, and it's because of him. Tons in and around the sport got opportunities because of the awareness.
"The money is up across the board, and yet most continue to hate on him. You can't change history, he earned everything he got by hard work. Love him or hate him, he's a genius. Beat everybody put in front of him and bust his ass by his hard work and dedication. Built his own brand, gave back to help so many others. He left with all his faculties and more importantly, he left with his bankroll!!!!"
Whether you take the second blockquote here all that seriously or just see it as fluff for a retired fighter (or both, I guess, if you're more a pragmatic sort), the first part should stick. Ellerbe was a key part of the Mayweather team that took him from a Top Rank fighter Bob Arum believed would never be a superstar-level attraction to the biggest cash cow in the history of boxing, someone who did absolutely change the way that an elite-tier drawing card in boxing can be rewarded.
Even if you're a curmudgeon like me and want/expect the pay-per-view industry to eventually die off in an ever-changing media landscape where access is no longer limited and anything can be had for free if you give a minimal amount of effort, the fact is that Ellerbe is right here. Nobody is an instant mega-star on pay-per-view. It takes time. Gennady Golovkin can still get there. He also may not, but the door is not shut.