- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin is blossoming from cult status to mainstream boxing star in front of our eyes, if his fight Saturday night was any indication.
Golovkin stormed past Curtis Stevens to retain his title for the ninth time with a stellar performance in the eighth-round knockout victory -- his 15th KO in a row -- and people clearly liked what they saw, based on the viewership figures for the HBO-televised bout from the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
The broadcast attracted 1.410 million viewers (and peaked at 1.566 million), according to Nielsen Media Research. That is a 29 percent increase over Golovkin’s previous bout on June 29, also on HBO, which drew 1.097 million viewers.
The victory against Stevens ranks as the third-most watched cable fight of 2013, all three of which were HBO fights. Golovkin-Stevens trails only fights involving far more recognizable stars -- Miguel Cotto’s third-round knockout of Delvin Rodriguez on Oct. 5 had an average audience of 1.555 million viewers, and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s controversial decision win against Bryan Vera on Sept. 28 drew 1.416 million viewers.
Golovkin is due to return Feb. 1 against an opponent to be determined in Monte Carlo. Even though K2 Promotions’ Tom Loeffler, Golovkin’s promoter, and HBO do not have a deal for the fight at this point, it would seem that based on Golovkin’s rocketing star, the network would (and should) make an effort to show his next fight. There are few fighters in boxing today more exciting and dominating than Golovkin (28-0, 25 KOs).