By Jake Donovan

The long awaited stateside return of World heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko was well-received at the box-office and from the living room couch. The April 25 heavyweight championship bout between Klitschko and unbeaten American contender Bryant Jennings at Madison Square Garden in New York City pulled in an average of 1.637 million viewers over the course of their 12-round contest, peaking at 1.742 million viewers.

The monster rating is the highest for any cable TV fight since 2012.

In the televised co-feature, unbeaten Sadam Ali won a hard-fought 10-round decision over Francisco ‘Chia’ Santana in a bout that was much closer than the final scores indicated. Their contest drew 1 million viewers, peaking at 1.134 million.

The overall telecast averaged 1.3 million viewers on the night.

Klitschko’s last fight in the United States came in Feb. ’08, waltzing to an ugly 12-round decision versus Sultan Ibragimov, at the time an undefeated titlist who didn’t offer much over the course of their fight. The same could not be said of Jennings, a charismatic heavyweight from Philadelphia who came to fight and win, rather than just collect a paycheck as has been the case with most of Klitschko’s opponents in the nine years he’s held at least one major title.

Jennings’ efforts weren’t enough to make a dent on the scorecards, but served as a bright spot to an otherwise extremely tough fight to watch. It also helped viewers remain tuned in, as evidenced by the minimal dip in ratings from start to finish.

The 1.6 million viewers is more than double the total of both fighters’ most recent appearance on HBO.

Klitschko (64-3, 53KOs) last fought in November, scoring a 5th round knockout of Kubrat Pulev. The bout aired in the late afternoon in the U.S., drawing 620,000 viewers and peaking at nearly 700,000 viewers, both of which are strong numbers for an afternoon edition.

Jennings (19-1, 10KOs) fought twice on HBO in 2014, his most recent bout coming last July in a 12-round split decision win over Mike Perez. The fight—which served in chief support to Gennady Golovkin’s knockout win over Daniel Geale—generated just 714,000 viewers, peaking at 780,000 for their midsummer title eliminator. The bout happened to serve on Golovkin’s second lowest-rated network appearance as an HBO headliner.

The ratings and box-office success of Saturday’s show—which drew over 17,000 in attendance at MSG—continue a trend suggesting that there is renewed interest in the heavyweight division, in no small coincidence due to the emergence of American heavyweights surfacing towards the top. Earlier in the year, Deontay Wilder drew 1.24 million viewers for his alphabet title-winning effort over Bermane Stiverne in Las Vegas. In addition to becoming the first American heavyweight to lay claim to a major title since 2007, the feat served as Showtime’s 4th highest-rated bout since regularly tracking data in 2004.

All data provided by Nielsen Media Research.

 Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Twitter: @JakeNDaBox