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Gennady Golovkin Crushes Matthew Macklin in Three: HBO Continues to Bank on GGG’s Star Power

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COMMENTARY | Saturday night at the Foxwoods Resort in Mashantucket, Connecticut, Gennady Golovkin (27-0, 24 KOs) did what was expected of him by blowing away tough Irishman, Matthew Macklin (29-5, 20 KOs).

Scoring a third round TKO with a brutal left hook to Macklin's body, "GGG" not only made the eighth defense of his WBO middleweight title, but he also scored his first win over a legitimate top ten middleweight.

Golovkin's relentless pressure and precision power punching were on display from the very beginning of the bout, quickly breaking down the usually durable Macklin and helping to support the Kazakhstan native's reputation as a star-in-the-making.

HBO has been heavy in hyping Golovkin as a world-beating beast-and they definitely may be on to something.

If fans have noticed something a bit different about the way the network has been selling Golovkin, they wouldn't be wrong. HBO has invested a lot in building GGG and turning him from an Eastern European curiosity to a main stage player. It's a move that is turning out to be the right thing to do, but it's also a move done out of necessity as their available roster of bankable talent continues to shrink in the face of recent business decisions and a run of bad luck.

Back in March, when HBO decided to end its working relationship with Golden Boy Promotions, the idea may have been to launch a preemptive strike in the face of a mass exodus of Golden Boy fighters to network rival, Showtime. Floyd Mayweather had already signed an exclusive deal with Showtime and that meant that anyone between 140-154 lbs. with a realistic chance of getting a big ticket bout with "Money" would have to be with the same network.

So, in the face of an already-happening Golden Boy shift towards Showtime that began with the network's hiring of former GBP legal counsel Stephen Espinoza to head its sports department, HBO decided to close the door before it was shut in their face.

"In order to achieve our goal of the best fighters in the most compelling match-ups, we've decided to focus our efforts and resources on those strategic relationships where we better share common goals and business philosophies," head of HBO Sports, Ken Hershman, said in a statement to the press.

The move not only severed ties officially with those who had already migrated to Showtime, but it also pushed Golden Boy fighters like Adrien Broner and Bernard Hopkins, who were still working with HBO, to the other company.

The loss of talent would be felt, but HBO still had a nice line-up of talent and, with a few tweaks here and there, the network fight schedule would be just fine.

But that was then. Since that bold move, HBO has had a major run of bad luck.

In April, Sergio Martinez suffered a knee injury in his bout with Martin Murray and will be out for the rest of 2013. Nonito Donaire suffered an embarrassingly one-sided loss to Guillermo Rigondeaux and is now on the shelf with his own career-stalling injury. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is coming off a nine-month suspension for testing positive for marijuana after his loss to Sergio Martinez last year and will be looking for tune-up in his lone 2013 bout. Undisputed super middleweight kingpin, Andre Ward has been inactive, dealing with injury as well as a failed attempt to break free from promoter, Dan Goosen. Even Miguel Cotto, while officially a promotional free agent, will likely be doing business on Showtime since most of the fighters worth facing at junior middleweight are with Golden Boy.

Most damaging of all, though, was Manny Pacquiao's decision to base all future fights out of Asia. Although the Filipino icon will still be working through HBO and HBO PPV, a decrease in pay-per-view buys and overall market exposure is sure to happen. Given the loss of Mayweather and several other main stage fighters, any decline in Pacquiao numbers will cut like a knife.

Left on HBO's active roster are legitimate big leaguers, Juan Manuel Marquez, Timothy Bradley, Mikey Garcia and, of course, Gennady Golovkin. It's a solid crew, no doubt, but not the type of group around which an entire network schedule can be built.

Expect the network to keep hyping their talent like never before. They really have no choice.

And, with a guy like Golovkin, who has an entertaining ring style and a deep middleweight division in which to build his star, the decision to sell him as the next big thing is a no-brainer.

For the fans, there's no harm and no foul, as long as Golovkin is made to earn his spot at the top and as long as he keeps turning in compelling performances like he did Saturday night.

For HBO, though, the stakes are high. Gennady Golovkin is the network's biggest hope when it comes to creating a legitimate, bankable star. If GGG turns out to be more bark than bite, HBO could find itself in an even tougher spot as the network heads into an unsure 2014.

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Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.

Sources: HBO Boxing, Yahoo! Sports

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