By Jake Donovan
Showtime hopes the third time’s a charm, as in the final leg of three straight weeks of live boxing action. Floyd Mayweather returns to action this weekend, as he faces Marcos Maidana in a pay-per-view headlining welterweight bout at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (Saturday, 9PM ET, Showtime PPV).
Returns for the event will need to be spectacular, because ratings for the past two episodes of Showtime Championship Boxing have been underwhelming. The average viewership for the April 26 tripleheader from the Stub Hub Center in Carson, California registered at 623,000 viewers, roughly a 9% drop from its April 19 edition, when Bernard Hopkins registered one of his lowest-rated telecasts to date despite making history (again) in his light heavyweight title unification win over Beibut Shumenov.
The good news for Saturday’s broadcast was that it gained momentum – in viewership and in-ring action - as the show progressed.
The main event saw Keith Thurman dispatch badly faded Julio Diaz in three rounds, with the bout generating 835,000 viewers. The total was an 8% improvement on Thurman’s last ring appearance, stopping Jesus Soto-Karass in nine rounds last December, as the co-feature bout of a televised quadrupleheader topped by Maidana’s upset win of Adrien Broner.
Saturday’s broadcast marked Thurman’s first appearance as a headlining act on Showtime, often appearing in televised undercards. The Floridian’s latest win was aided by a leading Fight of the Year candidate in the evening’s co-feature, in which former 140 lb. titlist Lucas Matthysse rallied from two knockdowns to come back and stop John Molina Jr. in 11 rounds.
Their thriller pulled in an average of 748,000 viewers. The total is a 7% improvement on Matthysse’s loss to Danny Garcia in their lineal 140 lb. championship bout, although that bout was replayed on Showtime and packaged with the exclusive rebroadcast of Floyd Mayweather’s win over Saul ‘ Canelo’ Alvarez, whereas Saturday’s contest aired live.
Opening Saturday’s broadcast, Omar Figueroa struggled in the ring and among viewership. The unbeaten lightweight barely escaped with a 12-round split decision over Jerry Belmontes, in a bout that pulled in an average of 545,000 viewers. The tally is 20% fewer than Figueroa’s 12-round win over Nihito Arawaka in their thriller last July.
The telecast was preceded by Episode Two of All Access: Mayweather/Maidana, which also failed to resonate with the viewers. The documentary-style special attracted just 294,000 viewers.
All aforementioned totals are according to Nielsen Media Research.
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.