By Keith Idec
HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” tripleheader amounted to an entertaining telecast Saturday night, but its ratings dropped from the network’s previous two boxing offerings due to a lack of star power and some competition.
A week after Puerto Rican icon Miguel Cotto’s farewell fight, an upset, unanimous-decision defeat to Sadam Ali, peaked at 1,012,000 viewers, Saturday’s broadcast drew a peak audience of 618,000 during the main event. That bout, an action-packed brawl Miguel Roman won by ninth-round technical knockout against Orlando Salido, averaged 576,000 viewers, according to ratings released Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.
Mexico’s Roman (58-12, 45 KOs) dropped Salido in the fourth, eighth and ninth rounds before referee Robert Byrd stopped their scheduled 10-round, 130-pound fight at 1:43 of the ninth round. Mexico’s Salido (44-14-4, 31 KOs) announced his retirement after the fight.
The co-feature that aired before Roman-Salido, Kenichi Ogawa’s controversial upset of Tevin Farmer, drew an average audience of 513,000 viewers and peaked at 587,000 viewers.
Japan’s Ogawa (23-1, 17 KOs) won a split decision over Philadelphia’s Farmer (25-5-1, 5 KOs), who seemed to out-work Ogawa during their 12-round fight for the then-vacant IBF super featherweight title.
Two judges – Burt Clements (116-112) and Max DeLuca (115-113) – scored the fight for Ogawa. Judge Tim Cheatham had it 116-112 for Farmer.
The opener of HBO’s three-bout broadcast, Francisco Vargas’ technical-decision victory against Stephen Smith, was watched by a peak audience of 540,000 and averaged 486,000 viewers.
Mexico’s Vargas (24-1-2, 17 KOs) was declared the winner of a fight that was halted in the ninth round, when England’s Smith (25-4, 15 KOs) suffered a gruesome injury to his left ear. All three judges – Eric Cheek (88-83), John McKaie (88-83) and Glenn Trowbridge (89-82) – had Vargas ahead by comfortable margins when an accidental clash of heads caused a grotesque gash that essentially cut Smith’s left ear in half.
HBO’s broadcast began at 10:20 p.m. ET, one hour and 20 minutes following the start of an ESPN telecast that featured Vasyl Lomachenko’s technical knockout of Guillermo Rigondeaux in the main event. The Lomachenko-Rigondeaux fight ended just before 11:30 p.m. ET, when HBO was televising the Ogawa-Farmer fight.
The Roman-Salido main event began just before 12:20 a.m. ET, almost an hour following the conclusion of Lomachenko-Rigondeaux.
ESPN’s four-fight telecast averaged 1,730,000 viewers, which made it the third most-watched boxing broadcast on basic or premium cable since 2012 (http://www.boxingscene.com/espns-loma-rigo-watched-by-173m-basic-cables-no-2-2012--123354).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.