"March Madness” might’ve been a tougher opponent for Artur Beterbiev than Adam Deines.
Directly competing with telecasts of numerous NCAA men’s basketball tournament games Saturday afternoon clearly impacted viewership of the Russian knockout artist’s fight against Deines on ESPN. Nielsen Media Research revealed Tuesday that an average of 287,000 viewers watched ESPN’s broadcast of Beterbiev’s 10th-round technical knockout of Deines from Megasport Sport Palace in Moscow.
Viewership peaked at 289,000 early in the heavily favored Beterbiev’s victory in the main event of a two-bout broadcast. The entire two-hour, 19-minute show drew an average of 233,000 viewers.
Nielsen’s numbers include only viewers who watched Beterbiev-Deines live on linear television. Nielsen’s totals don’t account for streaming, which represents a significant number of viewers for ESPN through its streaming service, ESPN+, and the network’s competing platforms in boxing, most notably FOX and Showtime.
The 36-year-old Beterbiev (16-0, 16 KOs) retained his IBF and WBC light heavyweight titles when he defeated Deines (19-2-1, 10 KOs), a Russian-born, Germany-based contender who was knocked out for the first time in 22 professional fights.
Beterbiev dropped Deines twice before their scheduled 12-rounder was stopped during the 10th round.
The hard-hitting Beterbiev’s right hand grazed the top of Deines’ head and sent him to the canvas late in the first round. Deines withstood Beterbiev’s power throughout the following eight rounds, until Beterbiev’s short, left hook knocked him down again late in the 10th round.
A game Deines got up again, but his trainer threw in the towel.
In the opener of ESPN’s two-bout broadcast, Russian super middleweight prospect Pavel Silyagin out-boxed previously unbeaten Uzbekistan native Azizbek Abdugofurov in their 12-round, 168-pound bout.
Silyagin (7-0, 4 KOs) beat Abdugofurov (13-1, 5 KOs) by huge margins on all three scorecards – 120-108, 119-109 and 119-109 – to win by unanimous decision. An average of 204,000 viewers watched the Silyagin- Abdugofurov fight.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.