By Jake Donovan
There wasn’t anyone more disappointed than Mikey Garcia when he was forced to concede his featherweight title on the scales. The unbeaten rising star missed weight for what became a non-title fight against Juan Manuel Lopez last weekend in Dallas, which aired live on HBO.
It turned out to be the only letdown of a weekend that continues to deliver very good news in the aftermath.
Garcia overcame the letdown and also the lingering flu bug that played a part in his struggling to lose the final two pounds necessary to still be classified as a featherweight champ. A one-sided 4th round knockout of Lopez drew rave reviews for his dominance, and apparently in front of his largest crowd to date. The Nielsen ratings for the show topped out at 1.3 million viewers, making the event the highest-rated HBO ‘Boxing After Dark’ telecast of 2013 to date.
There are several contributing factors to the lofty number – the show was preceded by the cable premiere of the 2012 blockbuster ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and also aired as part of a rare free-preview weekend on HBO.
Still, the fact remains that well over a million viewers saw Garcia (31-0, 27KO) at his best even when at his worst.
Another victory for HBO was the ratings pull for the televised co-feature. Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports reports that 1.1 million viewers tuned in for unbeaten lightweight Terence Crawford’s six-round annihilation of Mexico’s Alejandro Sanabria, an alarming number considering that neither fighter is particularly known beyond the sport’s hardcore fan base.
Crawford’s win comes on the heels of his HBO-televised debut earlier this year, an impressive 10-round points win over Breidis Prescott this past March. The bout came in supporting capacity to Mike Alvarado’s rematch win over Brandon Rios to avenge his lone loss, and also saw Crawford move up in weight to accept the fight on short notice.
Garcia’s win over Lopez was his second of 2013, coming five months after his title-lifting effort over Orlando Salido this past January in New York City. The unbeaten Californian has been well-traveled in his rise to stardom. His past five fights – in reverse order – have taken place in Dallas, New York City, Las Vegas, Mexico and Puerto Rico.
A trip back to Puerto Rico is potentially in store, as discussion is underway for a move up to the 130 lb. division for a proposed showdown with titlist Roman ‘Rocky’ Martinez.
Saturday’s fight marked Garcia’s fourth appearance on HBO. His premium cable debut came more than two years ago, dominating Matt Remillard en route to a 10th round stoppage in a matchup of unbeaten featherweights. He has also scored one-sided wins over Salido (Tech. UD-8) and Jonathan Barros (TKO8) on the network.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox