ESPN’s first boxing broadcast of 2021 drew respectable viewership Saturday night, particularly since its main event was postponed two days in advance.
Nielsen Media Research revealed Wednesday that the network’s three-bout broadcast averaged 584,000 viewers. A peak audience of 673,000 tuned in during the opening bout of the two-hour, 27-minute telecast, undefeated heavyweight prospect Jared Anderson’s sixth-round knockout of Kingsley Ibeh.
An average audience of 660,500 watched Anderson (8-0, 8 KOs), of Toledo, Ohio, beat Ibeh (5-2-1, 4 KOs) in their scheduled six-round bout at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. Anderson knocked out a battered, bloodied Ibeh with a left hook that left the native Nigerian flat on his back with 45 seconds to go in the final round.
The main event, Richard Commey’s sixth-round knockout of Jackson Marinez, attracted an average audience of 562,500. There was some overlap between Commey-Marinez and DAZN’s stream of its main event – Joseph Diaz Jr.’s 12-round majority draw with Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov in an IBF junior lightweight title fight.
Nielsen doesn’t track viewership for streaming services. DAZN doesn’t announce those figures, either.
In ESPN’s main event, Ghana’s Commey dropped the Dominican Republic’s Marinez twice in the sixth round. Referee Kenny Bayless stopped their scheduled 10-round lightweight bout as soon as Commey’s crushing right hand floored Marinez a second time with 29 seconds remaining in the sixth round.
Commey (30-3, 27 KOs) fought for the first time since Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) knocked him out in the second round of their December 2019 fight for Commey’s IBF 135-pound crown at Madison Square Garden in New York. Marinez (19-2, 7 KOs) lost by knockout for the first time.
The Commey-Marinez match was elevated to the main event of promoter Top Rank’s card Thursday because Maxim Vlasov tested positive for COVID-19.
Russia’s Vlasov (45-3, 26 KOs) was scheduled to battle Joe Smith Jr. (26-3, 21 KOs), of Mastic, New York, for the vacant WBO light heavyweight title. Their fight has been postponed indefinitely.
ESPN’s show Saturday night also included Adam Lopez’s majority-decision win against Jason Sanchez in a 10-round featherweight fight.
Lopez (15-2, 6 KOs), of Glendale, California, beat Albuquerque’s Sanchez (15-3, 8 KOs) on two scorecards (97-93, 96-94, 95-95). An average of 552,000 viewers watched the Lopez-Sanchez fight.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.