By Keith Idec
An increasing amount of viewers want to watch Vasyl Lomachenko, even in one-sided fights.
The Ukrainian star’s nine-round domination of Jason Sosa generated the highest rating for a boxing match on premium cable thus far in 2017. According to ratings released by Nielsen Media Research on Tuesday morning, a peak audience of 886,000 viewers tuned in to HBO on Saturday night to watch another superb performance from Lomachenko (8-1, 6 KOs).
An average of 832,000 viewers watched the uniquely skilled southpaw defend his WBO world super featherweight title against Sosa (20-2-4, 15 KOs) in the main event of HBO’s “World Championship Boxing” tripleheader. Raul Rivas, Sosa’s trainer, stopped their fight following nine rounds at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
The highest-rated fight to air on premium cable this year before Lomachenko-Sosa was Showtime’s broadcast of Adrien Broner-Adrian Granados. Broner’s 10-round, split-decision win against Granados peaked at 859,000 viewers and averaged 779,000 on February 18 from Cincinnati.
Lomachenko-Sosa also was by far the most-watched live bout HBO has televised this year. The previous high for the four live fights HBO televised this year was the peak viewership for David Lemieux’s spectacular third-round knockout of Curtis Stevens (672,000) on March 11 from Verona, New York.
The 29-year-old Lomachenko’s last fight on HBO, another dominant performance against former featherweight champion Nicholas Walters, drew a peak audience of 761,000 on November 26 from Las Vegas.
The first two fights HBO aired Saturday night also out-performed the network’s first two live main events in 2017.
An average audience of 690,000 watched Ukrainian light heavyweight contender Oleksandr Gvozdyk (13-0, 11 KOs) stop Cuba’s Yunieski Gonzalez (18-3, 14 KOs) in the third round. The Gvozdyk-Gonzalez bout peaked at 702,000 viewers.
The opener of HBO’s three-fight telecast, Aleksandr Usyk’s unanimous-decision defeat of Las Vegas’ Michael Hunter (12-1, 8 KOs), was watched by an average of 679,000 viewers. Peak viewership was 774,000 at one point as the unbeaten Usyk (12-0, 10 KOs) defended his WBO world cruiserweight championship in a 12-rounder.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.