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Azad Championship Report - Can Golovkin Be a Star?

Gennady ’GGG
Photo © Will Hart / K2

By Steve Kim

Tonight, Gennady Golovkin faces the respected Matthew Macklin at the MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort as the main event on HBO’s Boxing After Dark (9:45 p.m., ET/PT). It’s a cozy setting (which more cynical observers would say is another way of saying “small”) and while Golovkin is the heavy betting favorite, Macklin will have the most amount of fans in the venue.

But Tom Loeffler, managing director of K2 Promotions, believes Golovkin is headed to bigger and better things - and places. He envisions his fighter as one of the game’s substantial draws in America. And he has strategic plan in mind.
“Our goal is to build him first in New York because New York is the media capital of the world. If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. So once he becomes a regular there, we’re going to bring him back in November if everything goes the right way with Macklin, back to New York and then maybe one more time,” said Loeffler.
Back in late January, “GGG” played to favorable reviews at the Theater in Madison Square Garden in the Big Apple when he halted Gabriel Rosado in seven. As you looked into the audience after his bout was over, you saw a fair share of his countrymen who left and didn’t even bother sticking around for the listed main event between Orlando Salido and Mikey Garcia.
This event here was a logical choice to land back at this facility but the Garden is currently undergoing the last stage of its renovations.
“But we certainly want to build his fan-base. The goal for Gennady is to really build him into a pay-per-view fighter because he’s such a likeable guy outside the ring. He has such a fan-friendly style inside the ring that people are going to be willing to pay for it,” said Loeffler, who believes Irish eyes won’t be the only ones smiling on Saturday night at the Foxwoods. He says a sizable throng of Golovkin fans will be in attendance to see him battle Macklin.
(Left to Right): Gennady Golovkin vs. Matthew Macklin
(Photos © Bob Barton
(Left to Right): Gennady Golovkin vs. Matthew Macklin
The question is: Can a boxer from Kazakhstan become a marquee name in America? Well, the natural counterpunch to that is: Who would’ve ever thought a small southpaw from the Philippines would become a defining figure in the sport and a pay-per-view titan a decade ago? But Manny Pacquiao had the likes of Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez as dance partners to begin his ascent.
Loeffler says, “He just needs to be at the top of the sport and he needs to have other opponents in his division and that’s all lined up for him.” Right now, Golovkin is a cult figure to the hardcore fans but pay-per-view franchises are those who can transcend the sport and become destination viewing. Thus far, while he has HBO’s backing (this will be Golovkin’s third outing on the network since September), he hasn’t moved the needle from a ratings perspective yet. Moving forward, it’s still not clear if he can entice any of the other beltholders at 160 to ever get into the ring with him.
Regardless, the plan isn’t to just fight twice a year as they rely on any network license fees to keep them afloat. Also, they realize stars aren’t built on Indian casinos. Loeffler wants to hit major markets that have a large concentration of Russian-speaking cultures.
“But in order to do that effectively, we’d be willing to have the right type of opponent, bring him to L.A., then also - if there’s a fight that makes sense - in Chicago. Those are three great cities kind of spread out throughout the country and that would be our plan to really build up his fans’ base and then, ultimately, he’ll be at the top of the sport,” stated Loeffler, who says this vision extends globally. “That’s the plan in America, at the same time, like when we took the Monte Carlo fight [in March versus Nobuhiro Ishida] to stay in contact with the European and Russian boxing fans - because he’s become now, after the Klitschko brothers, the third most popular fighter in the former Soviet Union, Russian-speaking countries.
“That’s the type of fan-base we don’t want to lose and also the European fan-base. But the focus right now is to really build him in the United States.”
There’s a reason why K2 has gone out of its way to make Golovkin - who’s hired an English tutor to help sharpen his command of his fourth language - as accessible as possible. In addition to a media day for Golovkin, a press luncheon was held last week, which was attended by many more members of the Southern California press (so it’s clear right now, the media will go out to meet Golovkin for a free lunch but won’t make the long and arduous uphill trek to Big Bear).
At the beginning of the year, Loeffler and Golovkin pledged they would perform five times in 2013. In lieu of landing that big, defining fight, they would work early and often in volume - to consistently perform and be in the public eye. This will be Golovkin’s third fight of 2013 (and his fifth since last May) and the plan could see them in South Africa later this summer and then back on HBO in November (but again, Mr. Macklin will have a lot to say about these plans).
This activity makes him as busy as any fighter today at the 12-round championship level. But at age 31, what does the future hold? Loeffler believes that if everything goes according to plan for the rest of this year, less will be more in the future.
“That was our goal for this year,” he said of their hectic schedule. “We wanted to make a statement after the [Grzegorz] Proksa fight. We wanted to make a statement that this was a breakout year for Gennady. I don’t know if five fights are realistic. For this year, it’s realistic. Next year? Probably not because as you move into those bigger fights, unification-type of fights or pay-per-view-type of fights, whether it’s Sergio Martinez or a Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fight or unification with Daniel Geale or Peter Quillin, any of those guys, those fights take a lot longer in preparation and just maneuvering to put the fight together. That would naturally slow down his progress.
“But he’s the type of guy who could easily continue to fight three, four times a year.”


With the Nevada State Athletic Commission reducing Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s fine (from an exorbitant $900,000 to a much more reasonable $100,000) for his positive test for marijuana following his loss last September to Sergio Martinez, Bob Arum says Vegas will soon be back to hosting Chavez fights.

According to Arum, this reduced amount was negotiated by the two parties.

As of now, Chavez Jr. is scheduled to face Brian Vera on September 7th at the Staples Center in Los Angeles but he still has to obtain his Visa before Top Rank can move ahead with any plans.


After being left for dead last week, I hear the potential bout between Mike Alvarado and Ruslan Provodnikov is once again showing signs of life and significant progress has been made...Say what you will about Joan Guzman but he is consistent; right?...My understanding is that Paul Spadafora never actually agreed to face Thomas Dulorme...So should it really be Doc Rivers versus Bill Simmons as the main event at the Foxwoods this weekend?...Don’t know what this really means but the episode of “2 Days” featuring Golovkin had an accumulative audience of 2.5 million...So in how many years will we get the “30 for 30” on Aaron Hernandez?...By the way, the Floyd Mayweather-Saul Alvarez closed-circuit tickets are a hundred bucks. That is not a typo...

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