More boxing fans than usual tuned in Saturday night for a highly anticipated battle between Mexican warriors.
Nielsen Media Research released figures Tuesday that indicated a peak audience of 884,000 watched ESPN’s telecast of the Emanuel Navarrete-Oscar Valdez main event from Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona. The average audience for a 12-round, 130-pound title bout Navarrete won unanimously was 808,000, according to Nielsen.
ESPN’s entire three-fight, two-hour, 38-minute telecast drew an average of 669,000 viewers.
The numbers Nielsen reports are based only on those who watched on ESPN’s linear channel. Nielsen doesn’t track streaming viewership on ESPN+ and ESPN doesn’t divulge those sizable portions of viewership totals publicly.
The taller, awkward Navarrete (38-1, 31 KOs) retained the WBO junior lightweight title he won by stopping Australia’s Liam Wilson (11-2, 7 KOs) in the ninth round of his previous fight. Navarrete got up from a fourth-round knockdown to drop and stop Wilson in the ninth round February 3 at Desert Diamond Arena.
Six months later, Navarrete fought through an injury to his right hand during the second half of their fan-friendly fight to win a unanimous decision over Valdez. He also landed left hands routinely enough to leave Valdez’s right eye swollen shut.
Though their fight was competitive, judges Lisa Giampa (119-109) and Chris Wilson (118-110) scored 11 and 10 rounds, respectively, for Navarrete. Judge Chris Wilson scored eight rounds for Navarette, who won 116-112 on his card.
Valdez, 32, lost a 12-round unanimous decision for the second time in his past three fights.
Shakur Stevenson (20-0, 10 KOs) dominated Valdez in their 130-pound title unification fight in April 2022 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Stevenson, a two-weight world champion from Newark, New Jersey, dropped Valdez during the sixth round and won by scores of 118-109, 118-109 and 117-110.
Mexican junior welterweight prospect Lindolfo Delgado defeated countryman Jair Valtierra by unanimous decision in ESPN’s 10-round co-feature Saturday night. Delgado (18-0, 13 KOs) beat Valtierra (16-3, 8 KOs) by scores of 99-91, 99-91 and 98-92.
The network’s tripleheader began with heavyweight prospect Richard Torrez Jr.’s first-round knockout of Willie Lake Jr. Torrez (6-0, 6 KOs), of Tulare, California, dropped Indianapolis’ Lake (11-4-2, 3 KOs) with a counter right hook and later landed power punches that made referee Robert Hoyle stop their scheduled six-rounder only 82 seconds into it.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.