By Keith Idec
The Miguel Berchelt-Francisco Vargas rematch drew a peak audience of over one million Saturday night.
Nielsen Media Research revealed that ESPN’s broadcast of Berchelt’s technical-knockout victory over Vargas peaked at 1,099,000 viewers. Berchelt basically battered a faded Vargas until Vargas’ trainer, Joel Diaz, instructed referee Jay Nady to stop their scheduled 12-round, 130-pound title fight following the fifth round.
The Berchelt-Vargas doubleheader, which also included a 122-pound championship rematch between Emanuel Navarrete and Isaac Dogboe, attracted an average viewership of 740,000.
Mexico’s Navarette (27-1, 23 KOs) stopped Ghana’s Dogboe (20-2, 14 KOs) in the 12th round of a one-sided fight at the Tucson Convention Center in Tucson, Arizona.
Navarette, who defeated Dogboe by unanimous decision to win the WBO junior featherweight title December 8, knocked down Dogboe once apiece in the sixth and 12th rounds Saturday night. Dogboe’s trainer/father, Paul Dogboe, threw in the towel following the second knockdown.
Later Saturday night, Berchelt (36-1, 32 KOs) defeated Vargas (25-2-2, 18 KOs), his Mexican rival, by TKO for the second time in two years. Berchelt stopped Vargas in the 11th round of a January 2017 fight to win the WBC super featherweight title.
ESPN’s ratings for Saturday’s Top Rank show were significantly higher than viewership for its three-bout broadcast the previous Saturday night. That telecast, headlined by IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev’s fifth-round knockout of Radivoje Kalajdzic, was watched by an average audience of 480,000 on May 4.
The Beterbiev-Kalajdzic show went head-to-head with DAZN’s live stream of the Canelo Alvarez-Daniel Jacobs middleweight title unification fight. Alvarez-Jacobs was commonly considered the biggest boxing match thus far thisS year in the United States.
The start of ESPN’s 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT telecast Saturday aired at the same time as a “FOX on PBC” main event between Julian Williams and Jarrett Hurd.
Williams-Hurd, a “Fight of the Year” candidate Williams won by unanimous decision, peaked at 2,108,000 viewers. FOX’s three-fight broadcast, which lasted nearly three hours, was watched by average audience of 1,385,000 viewers.
FOX, one of the four major broadcast networks in the United States, is available in approximately 119 million homes. ESPN, a basic cable channel, has roughly 87 million subscribers in the U.S.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.