By Jake Donovan
Adrien Broner the weekend’s biggest loser in the ring, but continues to be a major ratings winner for premium cable networks.
The former three-division titlist suffered a humiliating loss at the lethal hands of Marcos Maidana in the 12-round welterweight bout December 14 in San Antonio. Fans responded in droves to the love-hate relationship with the fighter, with the Showtime-televised main event boasting just under 1.3 million viewers.
The show was the headlining act of a televised quadruple header, and also the last major stateside boxing event of 2013. On the loaded undercard, Keith Thurman—Boxingscene.com’s 2012 Prospect of the Year—capped a breakout year with a 9th round knockout of Jesus Soto Karass in the evening’s chief support.
Leo Santa Cruz and Beibut Shumenov also scored momentum-building wins in preliminary action.
Broner now claims the two highest-rated telecasts of 2013 for Showtime. All three of his fights on the year land firmly in the Top 10 list of most viewed cable boxing fights in 2013, with his knockout win over Gavin Rees this past February registering 1.4 million viewers.
The win over Rees was Broner’s last fight on HBO, as he eventually followed the majority of Golden Boy Promotions (and Al Haymon-managed) fighters across the street to Showtime, which has televised his last two contests.
Broner’s loss to Maidana drew slightly fewer viewers than the audience of 1.3 million who tuned in for his welterweight-title lifting effort over Paul Malignaggi this past June.
Maidana’s viewership, meanwhile, increased by more than 200% from his 6th round knockout over Josesito Lopez this past June. Despite the wide variance in ratings, both bouts will be discussed among year-end awards season.
The win over Broner is by far the biggest of Maidana’s career, one that became an instant hit with many in the sport, given Broner’s preferred villainous role in any given promotion. From his 2nd round knockdown to his storming out of the ring the moment the decision was announced, fans opted to capture the moment’s events through celebration, social media exclamations of his being exposed in the ring, and memes ranging from hysterical to disturbing.
Maidana emerges as a major welterweight player with the win, his fourth straight and third to air on Showtime. His network debut kicked off his win streak, scoring a 7th round stoppage of Jesus Soto Karass last September. The evening’s headliner—Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez’ 5th round knockout of Lopez—was the first ever Showtime bout to crack the 1 million viewer barrier.
Showtime has now met or surpassed that mark six times, all coming in the span of the past 15 months. Alvarez is on the list twice, claiming the network’s third highest-rated fight of 2013 in April with his points win over Austin Trout, whose 12-round upset win over Miguel Cotto last December remains the highest-rated main event on Showtime since 2009, when the network began regularly tracking viewership data.
The Trout-Cotto main event is the only Showtime headliner to outperform both of Broner’s appearances on the network. Whether they will continue to tune in with as much interest in 2014 coming off of such an embarrassing loss—or whether Maidana’s next fight is viewed with as much interest—is something that only the future beholds.
What’s clear by Broner’s ratings run in 2013 is, love him or hate him, fans are watching him.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox