Gennady Golovkin’s return to HBO television ended up being a massive success for the network.
The May 5 boxing card from the StubHub Center in Carson, California headlined by Gennady Golovkin vs. Vanes Martirosyan ended up being the most-watched boxing fight on premium cable in 2018. According to Showbuzz Daily, Golovkin vs. Martirosyan drew an average of 1.249 million viewers, giving the network its first fight to average more than a million viewers since 2016.
The fight, which peaked at 1.36 million viewers, also averaged 645,000 viewers in the coveted 18-49 demographic and drew a 0.67 rating. Golovkin retained the WBA and WBC middleweight titles by knocking out Martirosyan in the second round.
The viewership was the network's top boxing fight in terms of live viewership since Golovkin's 2016 fight against Dominic Wade averaged 1.325 million viewers. The May 5 fight was also a huge jump in viewership from HBO's April 28 boxing event headlined by Daniel Jacobs vs. Maciej Sulecki, which averaged 811,000 viewers.
The co-main event, Cecilia Braekhus vs. Kali Reis in HBO's first live televised women's boxing match, averaged 904,000 viewers and peaked at 1.02 million viewers. Braekhus defeated Reis by unanimous decision to retain her undisputed WBA, WBO, WBC, IBF and IBO women's welterweight titles.
The May 5 event was originally supposed to be on pay-per-view with Golovkin facing Canelo Alvarez, but Alvarez tested positive twice for traces of clenbuterol. Alvarez withdrew from the fight and so Golovkin's record-tying 20th middleweight world title defense was moved from Las Vegas to the StubHub Center.