By Jake Donovan
The April 30 primetime edition of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on Fox featured a loaded evening of knockouts in the ring. Unfortunately, it came up short when it came to tallying up viewership.
The second installment of the series of free-to-air Fox TV averaged 1.51 million viewers over the course of the two-plus hour telecast, which aired live at 8:00 p.m. ET (5:00 p.m. locally) from the StubHub Center in Carson, Calf. Such ratings are considered preliminary, as Nielsen Media Research has proven that live sports tend to trend upward upon final review.
However, the mark is already more than 30% drop from the PBC on Fox debut on January 23, which averaged a healthy 2.23 million viewers.
Beating out the telecast head-to-head were: reruns of NCIS and NCIS:New Orleans on CBS; and coverage of the National Hockey League (NHL) playoffs on NBC.
A special Jazz At The White House segment on ABC drew a larger average viewership audience, but PBC outdid the segment in the 18-49 market, pulling a 0.5 ratings share, which is considered healthy for TV on Saturday evening.
The ratings don't at all reflect the favorable reaction received by those who were tuned in to a show that featured four spectacular knockouts. Headlining the telecast, Andre Berto overcame a 2nd round knockdown to twice drop and eventually stop Victor Ortiz in four rounds. The bout was a rematch five years after their Fight of the Year entrant in 2011, with both fighters hitting the deck on that night as well but ending with Ortiz taking a decision win to hand Berto his first loss and also claim his welterweight title in the process.
Both boxers have since fallen on hard times since that night.
Ortiz (31-6-2, 24KOs) has now suffered four stoppage losses in his last six nights following what remains his career defining win. Berto (31-4, 24KOs) is 4-3 (3KOs) over that same stretch, but his latest win breathes new life into his career. Teased at night's end was the possibility of the former welterweight titlist facing unbeaten two-division champ Danny Garcia, who sat ringside as part of the broadcast team.
The other three highlight reel knockouts on the night all came courtesy of fighters whose futures look glowingly bright.
Jorge Lara was tasked with facing his longtime idol, former three-division titlist Fernando Montiel. Admiration shifted to business in a hurry, as the unbeaten featherweight scored four knockdowns in less than two minutes of ring time to pick up the biggest win of his career.
Thomas Williams Jr. and Edwin Rodriguez were all but guaranteed to deliver a knockout ending one way or another. The pair of light heavyweights were true to form, as their two-round affair was bombs away from the opening bell, ending with Williams slamming home a right hook and left cross to drop and stop Rodriguez.
The win earns the second-generation boxer from the DC area a potential shot at World light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson.
With plenty of time to kill before the main event, 19-year old light heavyweight prospect David Benavidez wowed viewers with his two-round destruction of Phillip Jackson.
Perhaps with too much time to kill before the close of the broadcast, heavyweights Gerald Washington and Eddie Chambers were ushered into the ring for a bout that was mercifully shortened from 10 rounds to eight. Washington (17-0-1, 11KOs) walked away with a unanimous decision in a fight that did little for his career, while Chambers (42-5, 23KOs) squandered a prime opportunity after campaigning for years through social media of how he's been avoided.
The dissatisfying tempo of the heavyweight stinker did nothing to engage viewers who were already being reminded of an accompanying Showtime telecast from Washington D.C. immediately following the Fox card.
From a ratings perspective, the glass half-full view is that Saturday's card delivered more than a 20% improvement from the struggling ratings that accompanied the April 16 edition of PBC on NBC. Errol Spence enjoyed a breakthrough performance with a one-sided 5th round knockout of Chris Algieri. However, the card as a whole produced the lowest primetime rating on network TV since the launch of the PBC series last March.
The low viewership for that card also affected a trailing Showtime boxing telecast, which didn't begin until 11:00 p.m. ET and suffered badly in the ratings.
Showtime's doubleheader from Saturday began an hour earlier this time (10:00 p.m. ET). Ratings for the telecast will not be released until Tuesday morning, but the current trend in place should not hope for the best, but rather for the PBC brass to rethink how to reconnect with the home audience.
As shown for the most part throughout both telecasts, the boxers involved are willing to pull it all on the line in the ring. It's only right their handlers reciprocate in the manner in which the product is presented.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Follow him on his shiny new Twitter account: @JakeNDaBox_v2