FOX’s telecast Saturday night was the most-watched boxing broadcast in the United States since the sport returned to television June 9.
Nielsen Media Research revealed Tuesday that the main event of FOX’s three-bout broadcast, Jamal James’ victory over Thomas Dulorme, drew an average audience of 1,076,000 and a peak audience of 1,224,000 at the beginning of their 12-round, 147-pound title fight at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Before Saturday night, ESPN’s show June 9 drew the biggest audience of any boxing broadcast since the sport ended nearly a three-month break caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The main event of that telecast, Shakur Stevenson’s sixth-round knockout of Felix Caraballo, attracted a peak viewership of 609,000. An overall average of 397,000 viewers watched that five-fight show.
FOX, one of four major broadcast networks in the U.S., is available for free in nearly 115 million American homes. ESPN, a basic cable channel, has approximately 83 million subscribers in the U.S.
The main event of FOX’s previous boxing telecast was watched March 7 by a peak audience of 1,681,000 and averaged 1,675,000 viewers. Robert Helenius upset then-unbeaten heavyweight contender Adam Kownacki by fourth-round technical knockout in the main event that night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
While FOX’s show Saturday night drew more viewers than any boxing broadcast since March 7, viewership of its main event was lower than that of any “FOX PBC Fight Night” main event since Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions began its current four-year deal with the network.
The lowest viewership for a “FOX PBC Fight Night” main event since that deal was announced in September 2018 was for the show headlined by welterweights Danny Garcia and Adrian Granados in April 2019. That main event, in which Garcia knocked out Granados in the seventh round at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, was watched by an average of 1,391,000 viewers and a peak audience of 1,468,000.
Caleb Plant’s third-round technical knockout of Mike Lee drew a lower peak audience of 1,141,000 for FOX in July 2019.
Plant-Lee wasn’t the main event of the card that night, though. Their IBF super middleweight title fight was the lead-in to a FOX Sports Pay-Per-View show that featured welterweights Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman in the main event.
James and Dulorme, meanwhile, each headlined a show on free TV for the first time. Minneapolis’ James (27-1, 12 KOs) beat Las Vegas’ Dulorme (25-4-1, 16 KOs) by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder to win the WBA interim welterweight title.
The opener of FOX’s tripleheader, David Morrell Jr.’s win against Lennox Allen, drew an average of 766,000 viewers. The 22-year-old Morrell (3-0, 2 KOs), a Cuban southpaw, decisively beat Brooklyn’s Allen (22-1-1, 14 KOs) by unanimous decision in a 12-round fight for the WBA interim super middleweight title.
The subsequent bout, Omar Juarez’s victory over Willie Shaw, averaged 801,000 viewers. Juarez (8-0, 4 KOs), a junior welterweight prospect from Brownsville, Texas, out-pointed Shaw (12-2, 8 KOs), of Vallejo, California, and won a six-round unanimous decision.
The FS1 telecast that immediately followed FOX’s main event Saturday night attracted an average audience of 127,000.
That three-fight show peaked at 150,000 viewers toward the beginning of a 10-round welterweight bout between Luke Santamaria and Mykal Fox. Santamaria (11-1-1, 7 KOs), of Garden Grove, California, upset Fox (22-2, 5 KOs), of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, by unanimous decision.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.