By Keith Idec
Terence Crawford delivered in and out of the ring Saturday night.
The unbeaten WBC/WBO super lightweight champion’s superb performance against Felix Diaz drew the largest audience for a bout broadcast on cable television this year. According to ratings released by Nielsen Media Research on Tuesday morning, Crawford-Diaz attracted a peak audience of 1,036,000 on HBO and averaged 961,000 viewers.
Those ratings eclipsed viewership of the Vasyl Lomachenko-Jason Sosa fight – the previous high for 2017. The Ukrainian southpaw’s spectacularly thorough defeat of Sosa lured a peak audience of 886,000 and an average viewership of 832,000 on April 8 from MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
From a ratings perspective, Crawford also out-performed his previous appearance on HBO. That fight, an eight-round domination of John Molina Jr. on December 10 in Crawford’s hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, attracted a peak audience of 871,000 and averaged 860,000 viewers.
Diaz (19-2, 9 KOs) was typically perceived as a better opponent than Molina (29-7, 23 KOs), but Crawford handled him with comparable ease.
Crawford figured out the left-handed Diaz within the first few rounds of their scheduled 12-round fight. The 29-year-old Crawford (31-0, 22 KOs) then brilliantly boxed his way to a demoralizing performance that forced Diaz’s trainer, Joel Diaz, to tell referee Steve Willis to stop their fight following a particularly one-sided 10th round.
The right-handed Crawford spent the entire bout boxing out of a southpaw stance, which helped negate Diaz’s right hand and made Crawford tougher to hit. The former lightweight champion also used his left uppercut effectively in picking apart an opponent who won a gold medal for the Dominican Republic at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
The opener of HBO’s “World Championship Boxing” doubleheader also drew respectable ratings Saturday night.
Ray Beltran’s spectacular second-round knockout of Jonathan Maicelo produced a peak viewership of 723,000 and averaged 687,000 viewers. Those figures were higher than the ratings produced by the first two main events HBO televised live in 2017.
Those two bouts – Miguel Berchelt’s stoppage of Francisco Vargas on January 28 and David Lemieux’s sensational knockout of Curtis Stevens on March 11 – drew respective peak/average audiences of 549,000/497,000 and 672,000/606,000.
Beltran (33-7, 21 KOs, 1 NC), a Mexican immigrant, didn’t just earn a shot at the IBF light championship by knocking Peru’s Maicelo (25-3, 12 KOs, 1 NC) unconscious with a lead left hook. The longtime Phoenix resident also improved his chances of earning his green card, which would enable him to remain in the United States with his wife and three children.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.