By Keith Idec
Vasiliy Lomachenko-Jorge Linares was a much more competitive, compelling fight than Lomachenko’s domination of Guillermo Rigondeaux, but it didn’t draw greater ratings.
Nielsen Media Research numbers released Tuesday revealed ESPN’s two-bout broadcast Saturday night, which featured Lomachenko’s 10th-round technical knockout of Linares, drew an average audience of 1,024,00 viewers. The peak viewership for the Lomachenko-Linares battle wasn’t available as of Tuesday afternoon.
Lomachenko’s previous performance, a technical knockout of the previously unbeaten Rigondeaux on December 9 in The Theater at Madison Square Garden, drew a higher average rating for ESPN (1,730,000).
Top Rank’s doubleheader Saturday night began at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT – right in the middle of prime time on the East Coast, but earlier than usual for boxing broadcasts. It began with welterweight prospect Carlos Adames’ 10-round, unanimous-decision victory over Alejandro Barrera.
While lower than Lomachenko’s last fight, the average rating for Lomachenko-Linares was higher than all but one of Top Rank’s first five ESPN offerings in 2018.
The only Top Rank/ESPN broadcast that lured a higher average audience in 2018 was the card headlined by Oscar Valdez’s victory over Scott Quigg in a WBO featherweight championship match March 10. That telecast from StubHub Center in Carson, California, was watched by an average audience of 1,100,000.
Lomachenko-Linares also ranked No. 3 among all shows on cable television Saturday night, sports and non-sports, in viewers ages 18-49, a coveted demographic for advertisers.
Those that watched Saturday night were treated to a back-and-forth, tactical battle in which both boxers displayed high skill levels and boxing IQs.
Ukraine’s Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) was behind on one scorecard – 84-86, 86-84 and 85-85 – when he unleashed a diverse, 10-punch combination to Linares’ head that set up a perfectly placed left hook to Linares’ liver in the 10th round.
That temporarily paralyzing punch sent Linares to one knee. The 32-year-old Linares (44-4, 27 KOs) got to his feet before referee Ricky Gonzalez’s count reached 10, but Gonzalez determined Linares shouldn’t continue and stopped their bout at 2:08 of the 10th round.
The 30-year-old Lomachenko became a world champion in a third weight class in just his 12th professional fight. He took the WBA world lightweight title from Venezuela’s Linares in his debut at 135 pounds.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.