Thanks to a strong lead-in, more viewers watched the co-feature of ESPN’s boxing broadcast Saturday night than its main event.
Nielsen Media Research released numbers Tuesday that showed an average of 632,000 watched unbeaten Puerto Rican prospect Henry Lebron’s unanimous-decision defeat of Luis Lebron in an eight-round junior lightweight fight that opened ESPN’s telecast just after 11 p.m. ET from Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York. An average of 784,000 watched the beginning of this boxing telecast, but that appears to be due in large part to ESPN’s previous program.
That telecast – Tampa Bay’s 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers in Game 6 of the NHL’s Eastern Conference Final – drew an average audience of 2,837,000 viewers and a peak viewership of 3,789,000.
ESPN’s audience was lower for its main event, Edgar Berlanga’s unanimous points victory over Alexis Angulo in a 10-round super middleweight match, than the Lebron-Lebron bout.
Berlanga-Angulo drew an average viewership of 504,000. A peak audience of 515,000 watched Brooklyn’s Berlanga beat Colombia’s Angulo by comfortable margins on all three scorecards (99-91, 99-91, 98-92).
The Berlanga-Angulo fight didn’t begin until 12:13 a.m. ET, later than usual for an ESPN main event that took place on the East Coast.
Nielsen’s numbers include only viewers who watched on ESPN’s linear channel, not those who watched on ESPN Deportes or its streaming service, ESPN+, both of which offered live coverage of the Lebron-Lebron/Berlanga-Angulo doubleheader. ESPN’s linear viewership from Puerto Rico, where the Brooklyn-born Berlanga is popular, isn’t included in Nielsen’s average of 504,000 from the United States, either.
The most memorable moment from Berlanga’s win occurred early in the seventh round, when the 25-year-old Berlanga attempted to bite Angulo on his left shoulder.
Referee Ricky Gonzalez didn’t take a point from Berlanga (20-0, 16 KOs), or even admonish him, because he didn’t see Berlanga’s bite attempt. Gonzalez’s view was obstructed because he was trying to separate the clinched fighters from the opposite side from where Berlanga turned his head and tried to bite Angulo (27-3, 23 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.