By Keith Idec
David Lemieux delivered a highlight-reel knockout Saturday night, but the former middleweight champion’s dramatic victory over Curtis Stevens didn’t deliver great ratings.
According to figures released by Nielsen Media Research, the Lemieux-Stevens fight drew a peak audience of 672,000 viewers for HBO on Saturday night. An average of 606,000 viewers watched Lemieux-Stevens, which ended in the third round when Montreal’s Lemieux’s picture-perfect left hook knocked Brooklyn’s Stevens unconscious at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.
The ratings, while lower than normal for an HBO boxing broadcast, likely were lower because the main event started late in the eastern time zone (12:05 a.m. ET) and because the opener of the “Boxing After Dark” doubleheader was a boring bout that failed to build an audience.
That first fight – Yuriorkis Gamboa’s mundane 10-round, unanimous-decision win against Rene Alvarado – averaged 459,000 viewers and peaked at 524,000. The Cuban-born Gamboa, a former title-holder in three divisions, didn’t let his hands go during much of that lightweight fight and seemed content to coast to a points victory over Nicaragua’s Alvarado.
The main event of Saturday’s show, just the second live boxing broadcast for HBO in 2017, did out-perform the first doubleheader HBO televised this year.
The main event of that “first Boxing After Dark” broadcast – Miguel Berchelt’s bloody, brutal 11th-round technical knockout of fellow Mexican Francisco Vargas – attracted a peak audience of 549,000 viewers and averaged 497,000 viewers January 28 from Indio, California. The peak audience for HBO’s entire telecast that night was the 561,000 viewers that tuned in to watch at least some of a super featherweight fight Japan’s Takashi Miura won by 12th-round knockout against Mexico’s Miguel Roman.
The Berchelt-Vargas viewership was impacted because Showtime televised the Leo Santa Cruz-Carl Frampton rematch at the same time January 28 from Las Vegas. The highly anticipated Santa Cruz-Frampton rematch, which Santa Cruz won by majority decision, drew enough viewers (peak: 643,000; average: 587,000) to give Showtime a rare ratings victory over HBO when the premium-cable competitors have offered boxing broadcasts simultaneously.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.