By Jake Donovan
Shawn Porter’s debut as a headlining act on Showtime’s flagship boxing series—SHOWTIME ® CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING—proved disastrous at every turn.
The American welterweight suffered his first career loss, losing his alphabet title to England’s Kell Brook in their August 19 main event at StubHub Center in Carson, California. Adding insult to injury, interest surrounding the event was marginal, with the Showtime-televised tripleheader registering an average of 514,000 viewers over the course of the evening, according to Nielsen Media Research .
Porter’s loss to Brook was the most viewed bout of the evening, but at an average of 661,000 viewers was more than a 25% dropofff from his previous appearance–a 4 th round stoppage of former champ Paul Malignaggi, which was witnessed by 897,000 viewers in their April 19 clash.
The silver lining for the evening was that the event was attended by more than 7,000 fans, a respectable tally for a show lacking a notable box-office draw.
Brook was making his SHOWTIME debut. Porter has been a regular on the network, but mainly in supporting capacity. His win over Malignaggi came as the chief support to Bernard Hopkins’ light heavyweight title unification win over Beibut Shumenov, though actually outperforming the evening’s headliner in the ratings.
The tally for the main event was a significant dropoff from Showtime’s headliner one week prior, in which an average of 808,000 viewers tuned in for Danny Garcia’s 2 nd round knockout of Rod Salka in their August 9 mismatch. Furthermore, it also ranks below every prime time HBO boxing main event in 2014, adding to the summer doldrums that in years past have discouraged both HBO and Showtime from going heavy with boxing content during this time of the year.
A different approach has been taken this year, with boxing having aired live in prime time on four consecutive weekends between the two networks, along with a July 12 Showtime-Pay-Per-View telecast topped by Saul Alvarez’ narrow win over Erislandy Lara. Fans certainly can’t complain about the lack of boxing content, though apparently aren’t blown away with what they are being presented.
In supporting action, Anthony Dirrell became the second cancer survivor ever to capture a major title, dethroning Sakio Bika in their 12-round rematch. Dirrell joined Daniel Jacobs as fighters who’ve overcome cancer to capture major titles; Jacobs accomplished the feat one week prior with a 5 th round knockout of Jarrod Fletcher to claim a middleweight belt.
Dirrell’s win over Bika was tough to watch, yet oddly enough viewed by a larger audience than was the case for their first fight. The rematch averaged 574,000 viewers, up nearly 30% from their first fight, in which an average of 446,000 viewers watched the two battle to a draw last December in Brooklyn, New York.
The opening bout of the evening was by far the most entertaining, though sadly the least-viewed fight of the telecast (a normal trend for tripleheaders). Omar Figueroa overcame anxious moments and a horrific cut to stop Daniel Estrada in the 9 th round of their lightweight title fight. The fight registered 341,000 viewers, down from his last Showtime appearance – a 12-round split decision win over Jerry Belmontes, which registered 545,000 viewers in a similar role of an April 26 tripleheader.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America . Twitter: @JakeNDaBox