The return of “Showtime Championship Boxing” drew lower viewership than usual Saturday night than the series typically attracts.
According to Nielsen Media Research figures released Tuesday, the premium cable network’s three-bout broadcast peaked at 209,000 viewers during the main event. That bout, Angelo Leo’s unanimous-decision victory over Tramaine Williams in a 12-round fight for the then-vacant WBO junior featherweight title, attracted an average of 150,000 viewers.
The viewership dip was partially attributable to the fact that neither Leo nor Williams had ever headlined a “Showtime Championship Boxing” broadcast. The previously unbeaten Williams also was a late replacement for Stephen Fulton, who was removed from the main event Wednesday after testing positive for COVID-19.
Showtime televised live boxing Saturday night for the first time since March 13. The coronavirus pandemic essentially shut down the boxing business for nearly three months following Showtime’s “ShoBox: The New Generation” telecast that night from Hinckley, Minnesota.
The 26-year-old Leo (20-0, 9 KOs), of Albuquerque, New Mexico, overcame a slow start to batter Williams with a relentless body attack that helped account for his wide win on all three scorecards (118-110, 118-110, 117-111) at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The 27-year-old Williams (19-1, 6 KOs, 1 NC), of nearby New Haven, Connecticut, took this title fight on three days’ notice.
Williams was supposed to face Ra’eese Aleem in the co-featured fight Saturday night. Aleem (17-0, 11 KOs), of Muskegon, Michigan, instead defeated Marcus Bates by 10th-round technical knockout in their rematch, a 12-round, 122-pound WBA elimination match.
The Aleem-Bates bout was stopped because Bates (11-2-1, 8 KOs), of Washington, D.C., suffered an injury to his right wrist. Aleem began beating up Bates before he turned away from Aleem to favor his wrist, which caused referee Gary Rosato to halt the action at 2:18 of the 10th round.
Aleem’s victory was watched by an average of 135,000 viewers.
The opener of Showtime’s tripleheader Saturday night – Joe George’s sensational, one-punch, ninth-round knockout of Marcos Escudero – drew an average audience of 132,000 during a broadcast that began at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Houston’s George (11-0, 7 KOs) was down on two of three scorecards when he knocked Escudero flat on his back with a left uppercut 20 seconds into the ninth round of their light heavyweight rematch. Argentina’s Escudero (10-2, 9 KOs) couldn’t attempt to get up before referee Danny Schiavone stopped counting at nine and waved an end to their scheduled 10-rounder.
George recorded a controversial, 10-round split decision versus Escudero in their first fight November 15 at WinnaVegas Casino Resort in Sloan, Iowa.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.