By Jake Donovan
If there's any question as to why Amir Khan remains in the running to land a plum assignment versus Floyd Mayweather, his recent ratings pull on a loaded night of sports tells the tale.
The Brit's 12-round win over Chris Algieri on Friday, May 29 topped a PBC on Spike TV show that averaged 772,000 viewers over the course of the telecast. The headlining battle between former 140 lb. titlists averaged 1 million viewers on the night.
Also on the telecast, Javier Fortuna preserved his unbeaten record while unseating 130 lb. titlist Bryan Vasquez over 12 rounds.
Magnifying the ratings result is that the telecast came opposite a memorable Game 7 of the NHL playoffs between the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning. The elimination game - won by Tampa Bay who faces the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup - drew nearly 3.3 million viewers, the most ever for a non-Stanley Cup finals game on NBC Sports Network.
Despite the competition across the dial, viewership interest rose over the course of the Spike TV broadcast. The peak audience for the main event reached 1.12 million viewers, good for the most watched cable fight on a Friday night in more than eight years. The number surpasses the peak viewership of the first PBC on Spike TV main event, when a similar number of viewers tuned in as Andre Berto stopped Josesito Lopez to resurrect his career.
Khan was hardly in need of resuscitation as he remains among the world's best welterweights. He is also on the short list of potential candidates for Mayweather's planned ring return on September 12 in Las Vegas, which the pound-for-pound king has suggested will be the last of his historic career.
There were points in the fight where Khan (31-3, 19KOs) appeared vulnerable, hardly a unique circumstance for the brash Brit, who has been knocked out twice before in his career. What came as a surprise was Algieri showing far more aggression than is usually the case for the fighting pride of Long Island. The newfound bravery - tapped into by new trainer John David Jackson - made for an entertaining evening for the more than 7,000 fans in attendance at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Khan was able to adjust and come out ahead, registering his fifth straight win since suffering back-to-back defeats to end his stay as a 140 lb. titlist. His past four bouts have taken place at welterweight, which has included decisive wins over Luis Collazo and Devon Alexander.
The win over Collazo came as the chief support to Mayweather's first win over Marcos Maidana last May. Khan's placement on the card came as a consolation for not landing the Mayweather showdown he believed he was initially promised. He was in the running for such a fight in May, though it was naturally cast aside when Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao came to terms for their long-awaited showdown more than five years in the making.
Mayweather vs. Pacquiao went on to become the most lucrative fight in boxing history, as well as the most viewed boxing Pay-Per-View telecast with more than 4.4 million units sold. No other fight will come close to ever matching that, but Khan's most recent showing clearly indicates a viewing interest, which - along with his ring credentials - could mean more big business in September.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox