By Keith Idec
Plenty of boxing fans saw the demise of Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez live on HBO.
According to ratings released by Nielsen Media Research, a peak audience of 835,000 viewers were watching when Srisaket Sor Rungvisai knocked out Gonzalez in the fourth round of their super flyweight championship rematch Saturday night. The Sor Rungvisai-Gonzalez rematch, the main event of HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” tripleheader from Carson, California, drew an average audience of 796,000.
Thailand’s Sor Rungvisai (44-4-1, 40 KOs) dominated their rematch after scoring a controversial split-decision victory over Nicaragua’s Gonzalez (46-2, 38 KOs) in their 12-round fight March 18 at Madison Square Garden. Sor Rungvisai, a powerful southpaw, dropped Gonzalez twice in the fourth round and the former champion couldn’t get up from the second knockdown.
Gonzalez, 30, was considered by many media outlets as the best boxer in the world, pound-for-pound, before Sor Rungvisai beat him to win the WBC 115-pound title on the Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Jacobs undercard. The four-division champion said following his devastating defeat that he is seriously considering retirement.
The co-featured fight Saturday night, the highly anticipated American debut of Japan’s Naoya Inoue, attracted a peak audience of 770,000 viewers and averaged 735,000 viewers. Inoue (14-0, 12 KOs) stopped Cleveland’s Antonio Nieves (17-2-2, 9 KOs) after six one-sided rounds to retain his WBO super flyweight championship.
The opener of HBO’s tripleheader – a very competitive, compelling bout between Mexicans Juan Francisco Estrada and Carlos Cuadras – was watched by an average of 608,000 viewers and peaked at 714,000. Estrada (36-2, 25 KOs) beat Cuadras (36-2-1, 27 KOs) by unanimous decision, but by as close a margin as possible in their 12-round, 115-pound WBC elimination match.
Judges Tim Cheatham, Max DeLuca and Edward Hernandez Sr. each scored the fight 114-113 for Estrada. His knockdown of Cuadras in the 10th round was the difference on all three scorecards.
Initially, HBO ring announcer Michael Buffer said the winner was “Carlos Estrada,” which caused Cuadras and Estrada to think Cuadras won. Buffer corrected his mistake soon thereafter by revealing it was Estrada who had won and thus earned a shot at Sor Rungvisai’s title.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.