Gennady Golovkin proves to be a big hit with HBO viewers

Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin is on his way to becoming one of boxing's biggest stars, both in and out of the ring.

Golovkin's impressive eighth-round stoppage of Curtis Stevens on Saturday on HBO drew the third-largest audience for a boxing match on cable in 2013. According to Nielsen Media Research, it averaged 1.41 million viewers.

It peaked at 1.566 million.

The average viewership made it the year's third-highest rated cable bout, all of which had been on HBO. Miguel Cotto's win over Delvin Rodriguez is first, at 1.555 million average viewers; Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.'s controversial victory over Bryan Vera is second at an average viewership of 1.416 million.

Golovkin's performance in the ring was stellar, as he put on a show in dismantling a far tougher than expected Stevens. But he was even better as an attraction, increasing his viewership by almost 30 percent from his last fight, when he averaged 1.097 million viewers against Matthew Macklin.

Golovkin was 4-0 in 2013 and is among the many candidates for Fighter of the Year.