By Keith Idec
The ratings for the ESPN boxing telecast headlined by Jose Ramirez on Saturday night were almost as impressive as Ramirez’s performance.
An average of 1,487,000 viewers watched the one-hour, 50-minute telecast from Fresno, California, according to ratings released Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research. Ramirez (21-0, 16 KOs), an area hero, knocked out previously unbeaten Mike Reed (23-1, 12 KOs) in the second round of their main event, a junior welterweight bout that was scheduled for 10 rounds.
A capacity crowd of nearly 14,000 packed Fresno State University’s Save Mart Center to watch the biggest win of Ramirez’s career to date. The 2012 Olympian from nearby Avenal, California, is very popular in California’s Central Valley due in part to his social activism, primarily calling attention to the impact the area’s water shortage has had on those that work in the farming industry.
The opener of ESPN’s doubleheader, a light heavyweight championship bout between Artur Beterbiev and Enrico Koelling, was watched by an average audience of 1.9 million viewers. Russia’s Beterbiev (12-0, 12 KOs) kept his perfect knockout record intact and won the vacant IBF light heavyweight title by knocking out Germany’s Koelling (23-2, 6 KOs) in the 12th round.
ESPN’s telecast, part of promoter Top Rank Inc.’s new deal with the basic cable network, mostly aired at the same time as HBO’s “World Championship Boxing” tripleheader Saturday night. That broadcast, which began 30 minutes before ESPN’s telecast, peaked at 765,000 viewers during the main event, middleweight contender Daniel Jacobs’ 12-round, unanimous-decision victory over Luis Arias (http://www.boxingscene.com/jacobs-arias-peaks-765000-viewers-averages-706000-on-hbo--122448).
ESPN is available in nearly 60 million more homes in the United States than HBO, where roughly 32 million people subscribe to the premium cable channel. Top Rank fighters appeared almost exclusively on HBO and pay-per-view before Bob Arum’s promotional company made its deal with ESPN earlier this year.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.