ESPN’s audience grew Saturday night as knockout artist Edgar Berlanga was extended the distance for the first time as a pro.
Nielsen Media Research released data Tuesday that indicated an average of 803,000 viewers watched Berlanga’s eight-round points victory over Demond Nicholson on Saturday night. Viewership peaked at 829,000 toward the end of Berlanga’s unanimous-decision victory over Nicholson at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Florida.
More viewers tuned in for Berlanga-Nicholson, the opener of ESPN’s doubleheader, than the main event. An average of 715,000 viewers and a peak audience of 797,000 watched the network’s featured attraction, Emanuel Navarrete’s stoppage of Christopher Diaz in the 12th-round of their fan-friendly featherweight title fight.
The entire telecast, which lasted two hours and two minutes, attracted an average audience of 733,000.
Nielsen’s totals include only those that watched the two-bout broadcast live on ESPN. The network doesn’t release viewership totals from ESPN+, its streaming service, which also offered those two fights live to its subscribers.
Brooklyn’s Berlanga (17-0, 16 KOs) had knocked out each of his first 16 professional opponents in the first round. The hard-hitting super middleweight prospect knocked down Nicholson four times – once apiece in the second, third, fifth and eighth rounds – and won by huge margins on the scorecards (79-68, 79-69 and 79-69).
The resilient Nicholson (23-4-1, 20 KOs) recorded a victory of sorts by taking Berlanga the distance. The Laurel, Maryland, native showed toughness right up until the very end of their one-sided fight, when he got up from Berlanga’s devastating right hand with less than 10 seconds remaining in the eighth round and made it to the final bell.
Later Saturday night, Mexico’s Navarrete and Puerto Rico’s Diaz provided plenty of entertainment in the main event.
Navarrete (34-1, 29 KOs), the WBO 126-pound champion, also dropped Diaz (26-3, 16 KOs) four times. A courageous Diaz got up from a knockdown during the fourth round, two knockdowns in the eighth round and a final trip to the canvas late in the 12th round.
Diaz’s trainer, Nelson Rodriguez, requested a stoppage once his battered, bloodied fighter reached his feet following that fourth knockdown. Referee Samuel Burgos stopped their fight with 11 seconds remaining in the final round.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.