More viewers watched Shakur Stevenson’s second fight at the junior lightweight limit than his debut at 130 pounds.
Nielsen Media Research revealed Tuesday that ESPN’s telecast of Stevenson’s easy, 10-round, unanimous-decision victory over Toka Kahn Clary was watched by an average of 1,281,000 viewers. ESPN’s entire three-bout broadcast, which lasted two hours and 24 minutes, averaged 1,550,000 viewers.
Stevenson’s previous appearance on ESPN, a sixth-round knockout of Felix Caraballo, drew a peak audience of 609,000 viewers June 9 from MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, the same site where Saturday’s card took place.
That June 9 telecast took place on a Tuesday, not a traditional night for broadcasting boxing. It also was the first live boxing broadcast in nearly three months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The beginning of Saturday’s telecast was boosted by a strong lead-in – LSU’s 37-34 upset of sixth-ranked Florida in college football. The length of that entertaining game cause ESPN’s boxing broadcast to begin nearly one hour late, at 10:58 p.m. EST.
The LSU-Florida game averaged 4,622,000 viewers, according to Nielsen.
Nielsen noted that the opener of ESPN’s boxing tripleheader – super middleweight prospect Edgar Berlanga’s first-round technical knockout of Ulises Sierra – attracted 2,289,000 viewers.
Brooklyn’s Berlanga (16-0, 16 KOs) has knocked out each of his pro opponents in the first round. San Diego’s Sierra (15-2-2, 9 KOs) had not been knocked out before Berlanga dropped him three times and stopped him just 2:40 into their scheduled eight-round, 168-pound bout.
ESPN’s viewership dipped following Berlanga’s win.
The network’s second bout, Masayoshi Nakatani’s dramatic comeback against Felix Verdejo, attracted an average of 1,603,000 viewers. Japan’s Nakatani (19-1, 13 KOs) overcame knockdowns in the first and fourth rounds to drop Puerto Rico’s Verdejo (27-2, 17 KOs) twice in the ninth round, when their scheduled 10-round lightweight fight was stopped.
In the main event Saturday night, Stevenson (15-0, 8 KOs) comfortably beat Clary (28-3, 19 KOs, 1 NC) in a one-sided, 10-round, 130-pound bout. Each judge scored all 10 rounds for Stevenson (100-90), a 2016 Olympic silver medalist from Newark, New Jersey, against Clary, of Providence, Rhode Island.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.