Hundreds of thousands of boxing fans never gave up Saturday night, even as each round of the dreadfully dull John Riel Casimero-Guillermo Rigondeaux track meet mirrored the previous three minutes.
According to a Nielsen Media Research report released Tuesday, viewership increased throughout their 12-round fight for Casimero’s WBO bantamweight title. An average audience of 279,000 watched Showtime’s main event from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, but it grew in each 15-minute increment measured by Nielsen.
A peak audience of 307,000 tuned in toward the end of Casimero’s split-decision win. By then, Showtime also had direct competition from ESPN’s main event – Joshua Franco’s 12-round, unanimous-decision defeat of Andrew Moloney in their fight for Franco’s WBA world super flyweight title.
Franco-Moloney, which was watched by an average of 368,000 viewers, began during the sixth round of Casimero-Rigondeaux.
Nielsen doesn’t track streaming viewership, thus totals for Showtime and ESPN include only those that watched on the linear channels. Neither Showtime nor ESPN release streaming viewership figures, either.
It was painfully obvious by the point those two main events aired simultaneously that a reluctant Rigondeaux (20-2, 13 KOs, 1 NC) would continue to move away from Casimero and throw only occasional punches unless the hard-hitting champion could connect with a shot that hurt the Cuban southpaw. The Philippines’ Casimero seemed to rock Rigondeaux with a combination toward the end of the first round, which made Rigondeaux abundantly cautious.
Judge Tim Cheatham still scored Rigondeaux a 115-113 winner. Judges Robert Hoyle (117-111) and Daniel Sandoval (116-112) respectively scored nine and eight rounds for Casimero (31-4, 21 KOs).
The first two fights Showtime televised Saturday night were much, much shorter than Casimero-Rigondeaux.
The co-feature – a 16-second bout between bantamweights Gary Antonio Russell and Emmanuel Rodriguez – resulted in a no-contest due to a clash of heads. Puerto Rico’s Rodriguez (19-2, 12 KOs, 1 NC) fell face-first to the canvas from the force of that collision, as blood poured from a cut across his nose.
Russell (18-0, 12 KOs, 1 NC), of Capitol Heights, Maryland, also suffered a cut near his hairline, though he could’ve continued in what was scheduled as a 12-round fight for the WBA interim bantamweight championship.
A total of 207,000 viewers tuned in for the Russell-Rodriguez fight.
In the opener of Showtime’s tripleheader, Rau’Shee Warren (19-3, 5 KOs, 1 NC), a three-time U.S. Olympian from Cincinnati, didn’t need two full rounds to stop Damien Vazquez.
The former IBO/WBA bantamweight champ dropped Las Vegas’ Vazquez (16-3-1, 8 KOs) twice in the first round. Referee Ray Corona stopped their scheduled 10-rounder when Warren wobbled a vulnerable Vazquez again in the second round.
An average of 144,000 viewers watched Warren stop Vazquez.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.