By Keith Idec
Jarrett Hurd and Erislandy Lara didn’t start fighting until 12:43 a.m. ET on Saturday night.
That didn’t stop them from producing higher ratings than the heavyweight title unification fight Showtime televised the previous Saturday. Nielsen Media Research ratings released Tuesday revealed viewership for Hurd-Lara, the main event of Showtime’s tripleheader from Las Vegas, peaked at 521,000.
The average audience for Hurd-Lara was 490,000. Unbeaten British superstar Anthony Joshua’s unanimous-decision win against Joseph Parker was watched by a peak audience of 379,000 and an average audience of 346,000 on March 31.
That heavyweight championship unification match began at 5:51 p.m. ET, long before prime time. While airing that early in the United States created a ratings disadvantage for the Joshua-Parker bout, Hurd-Lara began unusually late for East Coast viewers.
A same-day replay of Joshua-Parker peaked at 483,000 viewers and averaged 430,000. Showtime’s same-day replay from Cardiff, Wales, began at 10 p.m. ET.
Joshua’s fights air via pay-per-view in the United Kingdom, where the undefeated knockout artist is incredibly popular. Sky Sports Box Office doesn’t release buy rates for those pay-per-view events, which typically cost £19.95.
Those that tuned in to watch Hurd-Lara on Showtime witnessed an extremely competitive contest Hurd won by split decision.
The bigger, stronger Hurd floored Lara with 37 seconds remaining in a 12-round fight that seemingly could’ve gone either way. The Cuban-born, Houston-based Lara was winning on all three scorecards entering the 12th round, but the left hook Hurd landed to drop Lara was the difference on two of the three scorecards.
Had Hurd not floored Lara in the 12th round, their 154-pound title unification fight would’ve resulted in a majority draw.
Instead, judges Glenn Feldman and Dave Moretti scored their fight for Hurd by the same score, 114-113. Judge Burt Clement credited Lara with a 114-113 win.
The 27-year-old Hurd (22-0, 15 KOs), of Accokeek, Maryland, retained his IBF junior middleweight title and won the WBA and IBO super welterweight championships from Lara (25-3-2, 14 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.