ESPN’s boxing viewership improved Tuesday night from its previous telecast, but it was lower than the amount of viewers who tuned in a week earlier for the first live boxing broadcast in the United States since March 13.
Nielsen Media Research revealed Wednesday that ESPN’s three-hour, 49-minute broadcast Tuesday night drew a peak audience of 503,000 toward the end of the main event, Mike Plania’s upset of Joshua Greer Jr. The entire telecast averaged 350,000 viewers.
That’s an increase from Thursday night’s ESPN show, which was watched by a peak audience of 392,000 and an average audience of 311,000. ESPN’s broadcast June 9, which featured unbeaten WBO featherweight champ Shakur Stevenson in a one-sided main event, produced the basic cable network’s largest viewership of three June shows thus far (peak: 609,000; average: 397,000).
Each of ESPN’s three shows in June have taken place at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
The main event Tuesday night didn’t begin until after 11 p.m. ET because each of the first four fights ESPN aired – a 10-rounder and three six-rounders – also went the distance.
The Philippines’ Plania (24-1, 12 KOs), an unknown underdog, knocked down the favored Greer twice, with left hooks in the first and sixth rounds. Chicago’s Greer (22-2-1, 12 KOs) withstood those knockdowns and rallied in the later rounds to make their 10-round junior featherweight fight competitive.
An exhausted Plania literally held on at times in the eighth, ninth and 10th rounds, and won a majority decision.
Judges Tim Cheatham (96-92) and Patricia Morse-Jarman (97-91) scored the fight for the 23-year-old Plania. Judge Dave Moretti scored their fight a draw (94-94).
The 26-year-old Greer entered the bout as the WBO’s number one contender for its bantamweight champion, the Philippines’ Johnriel Casimero (29-4, 20 KOs). Greer also was ranked second by the IBF for a shot at its 118-pound champion, Japan’s Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs).
ESPN has another six-fight show set to air Thursday night from MGM Grand Conference Center, starting at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. In the main event, Jose Pedraza (26-3, 13 KOs), a two-division champion from Puerto Rico, will box Brooklyn’s Mikkel LesPierre (22-1-1, 10 KOs) in a 10-round junior welterweight fight.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.